Today we are pleased to announce the Sunndach and Calareidh Team, led by Rona Watson, as a winner of a Scottish Children’s Health Award. The team has won the Health and Wellbeing Award and their story is captured below by journalist and TV presenter Catriona Shearer.
The Scottish Children’s Health Awards have been created to celebrate courageous children and those who are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland.
Sunndach and Calareidh are both 24-hour nurse-led respite centres within NHS Lothian. The teams care for children with complex care needs within a community-based environment; some on a residential basis, some who are shared-care and others who come in for respite. But the aim is the same for all – to provide a ‘home-from-home’ style setting for the children, with individually themed bedrooms and a range of personal touches to make their experience comfortable and dignified.
Respite Centre Manager Rona Watson leads the Calareidh service and Debbi Dunlop is her equivalent over at Sunndach. Rona says winning the Health and Wellbeing Award is a huge morale boost and is keen to point out it’s very much a team effort, which is made up of Nurses, Clinical Support Workers and Housekeepers. “Each child’s level of ability and personal preferences are taken into account and staff spend a lot of time just getting it right for every child. They’re constantly striving to improve the life of each child whilst they are at Calareidh.”
Apart from the clinical care the children receive, staff organise an annual barbecue for them and their families to meet up and mingle. They throw Christmas parties with DJs and provide prizes, treats and entertainment for all – to help make memories.
So dedicated is Rona and her team to making a difference that they’ve been shielding from their own families during lockdown in order to protect the children in their care in the Centre.
Fiona O’Sullivan of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity nominated Sunndach and Calareidh after being “blown away by the selflessness” of the team. “They have truly gone above and beyond what is expected of them in their jobs in order to keep the lives of terminally ill children as safe as possible.”
The children who access this service have complex medical needs, which the staff meet every day as part of their job, but what makes this team special and deserving of this award, says Fiona, are all the little moments that make the child’s stay homely, supported and safe. “Their nurturing personalities and overall commitment to their work ensures that families are comforted in knowing that their child is receiving the best possible care in their absence.”
Whilst Rona is “immensely proud” of the team, she’s modest when it comes to their efforts but is thrilled with the award. “It’s so lovely to be recognised for all the hard work and we’re very excited to have won.”
Despite this team having had little to no human contact throughout lockdown due to COVID, Fiona feels the accolade is a touching tribute. “Because of the amazing sacrifices they have made to shield themselves, and although we can’t give them the hugs they all need, receiving this award would certainly boost morale and give them the recognition they deserve.”
Congratulations Sunndach and Calareidh Team on winning the Health and Wellbeing Award and thank you for making a difference.