Published: 10/08/2012 11:00 - Updated: 10/08/2012 11:03

Family left to cope alone after baby son's death

Written byby Will Clark

Andrew and Jodie Henderson and their daughter Ellie at Rachel House children's hospice in Kinross.
Andrew and Jodie Henderson and their daughter Ellie at Rachel House children's hospice in Kinross.

MORE support from charities and medical staff needs to exist in Caithness for families who have experienced the death of a child, claims a Wick father.

Andrew Henderson said he and his family feel let down with the lack of provision of counselling support that exists in the county after the death of his six-month-old son Taylor, who lost his battle against Otahara Syndrome in November last year.

He spoke after he and his wife Jodie and daughter Ellie travelled to Kinross to hand over a £10,866 cheque to the Rachel House hospice, a facility which allowed the family to be together in the last few weeks of Taylor’s life.

Mr Henderson (31), of Murray Avenue, said that he has been grateful for the support Rachel House has given his family since the death of his son, who suffered from a severe form of epilepsy.

But he said that for families in the far north who have not benefitted from the service at the hospice, they are left to cope on their own.

“We’ve had no support from any charity or medical staff in Caithness to help us through what has been a difficult time for us,” he said.

“Our family does feel let down that there is nothing up here to help families cope with the loss of a child.

“We have been fortunate that by staying at Rachel House, we have received so much after-care support.

“But other families up here who have not been there, don’t benefit from the amazing care they have provided us.

“Losing a child is the worst thing that can ever happen to a family and we feel that the medical staff have an attitude of life has to go on.

“However, nurses who treated Taylor during his illness came to his funeral and told us that through their experiences of working with him, they have changed the way they approach similar cases

“Hopefully from my son’s short life, they will change their attitude in the way they work and they take it through their professional career.”

Mr Henderson said that one area where his family did not receive a lack of support was from their friends and family who organised events to raise almost £11,000 in the space of nine months.

The family went to deliver the cheque personally to staff after they spent nine weeks at the hospice for families whose children suffer from life-shortening conditions.

Soon after his birth in June 2011, Taylor was transferred to the neonatal unit at Aberdeen Children’s Hospital before receiving treatment across Scotland, with his parents constantly at his side.

The family stayed at Rachel House which provides free accommodation to the young patients and their families.

Mr Henderson said that the facility enabled his family to spend the last few weeks of his son’s life together and that he would always be grateful to them.

“While he was being treated at hospital in Edinburgh, it was recommended that we should apply to go to Rachel House where we could spend some time with Taylor in a non-clinical environment,” he said.

“We spent nine weeks in total there and our daughter was also able to join us.

“For the first two weeks there, Taylor picked up in health as he didn’t suffer any seizures and it was believed that being at Rachel House and outside a hospital environment had something to do with that. What Rachel House gave us is something money can’t buy and we will always be grateful for that.”

Taylor was able to spend the last two weeks of his life back at the family home in Wick before he died in November.

But a year on, Rachel House continues to stay in contact with the Hendersons with social workers and a chaplain making regular contact to offer counselling and support.

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