Mean the end of childhood’
you get used to it you need to find another job.’ You need to have that caring attitude. If you stop caring you’re not doing it right.
“It is the most difficult part of the job. You have to be professional but it does get to you.
“But when you know the family, know their wishes, it’s a little bit easier. Definitely a little bit easier.”
Adrian said the hardest deaths were those that come out of the blue.
“You can see a child and, because of our referral criteria, they’re not expected to live until 18 anyway when they come along. But it could be a sudden death. There could be a parent on the phone explaining to you and obviously they’re upset. Dealing with that is quite difficult as well.
“There are a couple of stand-out moments. It’s that relationship you have with the different families. Sometimes you’ll build up a closer relationship just because you’ve been working with them, you’ve been allocated to work with them, and you get to know them. I think that sometimes is quite difficult.
“It’s like a family here, so when something happens you have people asking if you’re OK.
“My manager is good and she’ll always ask if I’m OK if I’ve had a tough couple of weeks. It’s a really supportive atmosphere.
“But when it comes to end of life, the team come together really well. People just come out of the woodwork.”
And when a death does happen, Adrian will take some time out to think and reflect about it.
“It depends on the family’s needs,” he said. “The families come first so you deal with that.
“But you will go off and have a cup of tea or wander round or go out in the grounds to take five or 10 minutes. But we’ve got to put that family first.
“You would be coming straight back in and carrying on. There’s always something to do.”
Staff at the hospice try their best to create memories for the children they support.
Whether it’s painting, arts and crafts, going to the cinema or playing on the slot machines in the arcades at Barry Island beach, staff try their best not to let a child’s end-oflife care also be the end of their childhood.
Adrian said: “I can remember a child coming in for end of life who was here for a few weeks. Her parents had been really anxious about coming here and she’d been really unwell, obviously.
“But they turned up here and 48 hours later they said, ‘We’re glad we came here. We didn’t think we’d like this.’ It was all because the word ‘hospice’ had been mentioned.
“You can see people relax as they come through the door, even though it’s going to be the worst weeks or days of their life. We try and make it as homely as we can. It’s not home but we try and get it as close as we can to it.
“We’ve got a great hydrotherapy pool. They [parents] think their child’s coming in and they won’t be able to do anything and they’re just going to watch them die but they’ll sometimes write their own stories, as we always say.
“I remember one lad we got into the pool and it was amazing. His family were able to get him on their laps and have nice photos taken and just sit there making memories.
“It was just amazing to be able to offer him that.
“Whereas you think he’s just going to lie in bed and won’t do a lot but I think we made his last few weeks a lot of fun. We did a lot of stuff.
“People think it’s just about giving kids medicine and they’ll feel better, but it’s not. It’s about distracting them.”
For Adrian, one of the biggest joys is seeing the kids’ smiling faces.
“It’s the kids, just seeing them developing,” he said. “Seeing the families grow in confidence.
“Some parents will leave their kids here but it’s when you’ve got someone who’s come along and obviously their child is their most precious possession and just thinking one day, ‘I’m happy to leave them here’.
“We’ve built up that trust for them to be able to leave their child with us. We become like mum and dad then.
“When you’re doing activities and they’re laughing and smiling and reacting to you – I just think it’s amazing.”
It typically costs more than £11,000 a day – £4.2m a year – to run the hospice.
For more information and to support them, visit www.tyhafan.org
hospice in Sully