Jasmine's brother, Oliver regularly visits Naomi House & Jacksplace. Having a brother who has additional needs brings its challenges, and Jasmine is also supported by our hospices. This is Jasmine's story, shared in her words.
11 year old Jasmine has been visiting Naomi House & Jacksplace with her brother Oliver, since she was three years old. Having a sibling who uses our hospice services and has additional needs can bring its challenges, so Jasmine has been supported through sibling activity days and one-to-one support.
We had a lovely chat with Jasmine who shared with us her experience at Naomi House & Jacksplace.
What would you like to tell us about you and your brother?
I’m 11 years old and my brother, Oliver is 17.
Oliver can’t walk or talk but he is one of the kindest people ever. Even though he can’t really do the things that people would think of as kind, he is just really nice and is fun to be around and is a really easy person to be with. He’s obsessed with going to the cinema and I like going with him because we get to sit in the box at the top where the wheelchairs can fit and it’s really fun!
We’ve always enjoyed coming to Naomi House. My brother’s room would be downstairs with the nurses and carers, and we would stay in the family rooms upstairs. All of the rooms have names and we actually stayed in the “Jasmine” room once which was good.
A funny thing happened one day. We were talking to some of the staff and they were asking me and my mum what our favourite chocolates were and we said Lindt bunnies. The next day when we went into the kitchen there were two Lindt bunnies for us!
What fun things have you liked doing when you visit?
It was nice to be able to play outside in the garden with Oliver in a space that he could actually fit in, because most parks are cramped and you can’t really get him and his wheelchair in. But at Naomi House there are special bikes and go-karts and things we could do together. There were mini cars that I could sit in and drive round in for hours on end. It was really fun!
We have been in the hydrotherapy pool together and we’ve also been in the sensory room and enjoyed the lights and the waterbed. I like doing creative things and I’ve always enjoyed doing lots of arts and crafts at Naomi House.
What do you like about the sibling activity days?
I like going to the sibling activity days and this year we had an outward-bound day in the New Forest. We did lots of climbing activities and team building which I really enjoyed.
I’ve made quite a few friends at the sibling days and I know that each time I go, they will be there and it’s nice to catch up with them. It is a lot easier to talk to them, because some of my other friends may not understand the sort of things that I worry about. Even though they don’t understand fully, it’s a lot easier to talk to my friends at the sibling days because they kind of understand in their own way. It is also nice to hear what they are going through too because it’s similar to me and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one.
I’ve met siblings who struggle making friends because they are caught up in what their own sibling is going through and I think it is really nice to be able to make friends with people who have a similar situation.
Do you find it helpful to talk about your worries?
I’m not in the worst situation, but sometimes it’s not very nice because there are endless things you can worry about with my brother. I could just sit here worrying all day every day about something that could happen, but it is just normal for me, it’s all I’ve ever known.
Jenny is the Children and Young People’s Support Worker and it’s been really nice to be able to talk to her. It’s helped me a lot. I can talk to her about stuff that sometimes I feel like I can’t talk to most other people about.
I speak to Jenny once a week, most of the time and I’ve been doing that for quite a while.
It really helps me to talk about my worries and the best way to deal with them, it makes me feel a lot better. Sometimes I worry about Oliver but sometimes it’s about school and other things. I’m also really scared of hospitals and sickness and when stuff like that happens, I get so worried and it can get really bad. Jenny will talk about strategies to try and prevent worries, or to calm me while I’m worrying.
My message to other siblings is that they should definitely come to the sibling activity days because it helps children and young people have a good time. All children like to have a good time but for some people it is a lot harder because they are worried or they can’t physically do it on their own, but it just gives them that chance to have some fun.
Jenny Astall, Children and Young People’s Support Worker at Naomi House & Jacksplace, shares the importance of supporting siblings of life limited and life threatened children and young adults:
Being a sibling of someone with additional needs can be tough, because a lot of family time and attention is focused on their brother or sister’s welfare and health. Siblings can feel isolated from their friends, and in some cases lack confidence. They can’t always go to after school clubs, playdates or sleepovers, and weekend plans can be cancelled last minute because their brother or sister is poorly. That’s why it’s vital to be able to offer them support, fun days out or just the chance to share how they’re feeling with people who understand them.
We offer siblings a wide variety of creative, therapeutic and fun activities that turn the focus 100% on them. Many of the activities use arts and crafts to encourage them to explore their emotions. For example, we decorate pillows to help the children cope with their feelings, punching it when they feel angry, or hugging it when they feel sad. We might go out for the day, visiting fun places to create new memories and opportunities for socialising. This is a brilliant way of boosting their self-esteem and confidence.
Jasmine has grown up with Naomi House. She has stayed here with Oliver, come to sibling events and had one to one support that she has found helpful. Oliver will start to visit Jacksplace, our hospice for young adults and Jasmine will continue to take part in all of the activities and events that she’s used to.