Guest blog: Family weekend through a parent’s eyes – we hear from the Olcay family
We understand that families who are impacted by a burn injury find it enormously helpful (as well as reassuring, and often comforting) to hear from other families who have shared a similar experience. We invited one of the parents who attended a Children’s Burns Trust Family Weekend last year to explain what their family felt about joining in order to inform others about what to expect, and this is the mother’s story that she very kindly shared with us:
In March 2022 our eldest daughter Alara, then aged 6, sustained a burn injury to her right shoulder when she accidently got burned by hot tea. She spent 5 months attending Chelsea and Westminster burns unit for treatment until the skin was heeled. Initially we attended the burns unit every 2 days for dressings and review by the nurses and doctors, particularly to ensure there was no infection. As the burn healed the visits to the hospital gradually reduced to once a week.
From the first day of admission to the burns unit, the play specialist provided Alara with comfort, reassurance and distraction and also helped to alleviate our anxieties, particularly in the early days following the burn. At one of our appointments the play specialist asked if we would like to attend a family weekend run by Children’s Burns Trust. She briefly told us about the family weekend, where other families who also had experienced a burn injury would attend along with a team of staff from different burns services. The staff would help to support us over the weekend to engage with the activities, enjoy the experience and most of all have some family fun time together.
Before we attended the family weekend in Littlehampton, we were uncertain of what to expect and daunted by the fear of the unknown. As the process of healing is very slow and leaves outside and inside scars, we were not sure of what to expect and were worried if the weekend might cause any upset to our daughter.
We decided it would be good for us to attend and from the moment we arrived at Fishers Farm on the Friday all our apprehensions disappeared as everyone was so kind, friendly and reassuring. We had a wonderful time at the farm, seeing the animals and enjoying the activities and all the different rides.
During our weekend we were able to meet other families and talk about the experience we had all gone through when our child had a burn injury. In the well-being session we were able to share our fears, anguish, compassion and hopes with the support, knowledge and experience provided by the staff who ran the session. We felt comfortable to be open and confident to talk with them and the other families.
In the session about scarring the occupational therapist gave us information about scars and how they heal, sharing her knowledge and answering our questions and anxieties about any aspect relating to burn scarring.
While we attended the parent sessions our children were looked after by the other burn care staff and volunteers who made sure they had great fun and did some lovely activities. The children were all happy and we noticed that they were more confident after just two days.
The staff at Marine Court, which is run by The Fire Fighters Charity looked after us all so well, from the lovely welcome on arrival to the kitchen staff who made sure we had lovely meals and didn’t go hungry.
The staff and volunteers from the burn units and the Children’s Burns Trust who gave up their time to run the weekend really looked after each family, ensuring that we all had fun and were able to spend some lovely family time together. Although the weekend is really busy we received lots of information and details about the programme and it all ran really smoothly.
The staff ensured close supervision of the children during all activities, which included swimming, a trip to the beach, games, arts and crafts activities, a puppet show and quiz night.
On the Sunday the children received a certificate of achievement which was really lovely.
We cannot thank the staff enough for inviting our family to take part, realising how the weekend would help us following the impact of the accident on our lives. Alara, her sister, my husband and I all had a fantastic experience over the weekend. We will be forever grateful.