The Thompson’s Story
"I never thought to get help. I’m Enzo’s Mum, he’s my child, and this is our normal life." – Caroline Thompson
Caroline and her husband Dan were first introduced to Sebastian’s Action Trust in August 2015. Dan, who is in the RAF, had been posted to the Falklands for 6months, leaving Caroline at home with Enzo who was 2 at the time and Luca who was only a few months old. Enzo, who is now 4 years old, has Cerebal Palsy, meaning he requires a lot of Mum Caroline’s time and attention.
For any family with a child with complex needs, the demand on time and attention is greatly increased. However, when one parent is in the RAF, this can put a lot of stress and pressure on the parent that stays at home. With Dan being in the RAF, Caroline is left at home alone to cope with the two boys. “Dan can be away a lot – anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months at a time” explains Caroline, “Both the boys need and require a lot of my time and attention and it is very difficult.”
One area that is made harder having both the boys are hospital appointments for Enzo, as Enzo is wheelchair bound. At the appointments, he often has to be taken out of the wheelchair. “When Luca was born, it was hard enough with him as a baby as I had to carry him as well as push Enzo in his chair. But at least I could leave him in his seat whilst I got Enzo out of his wheelchair and did everything needed in the appointment. Now Luca can walk, it’s hard to keep him occupied during the appointments.”
The Trust assigned an Outreach Worker to the family. Carla goes with Caroline to any appointments that Dan is away for and helps to keep Luca occupied. She also visits the family at home and helps out where she can there. “Bath times can be tricky, so Carla is a great help occupying Luca whilst I bathe Enzo and vice versa. I can only bathe Enzo when someone else is here, otherwise he just gets a sponge bath. It’s too difficult.”
Trying to stay on top of ‘normal’ tasks can also prove tough. This is where the Outreach Workers help the families they support practically. “When Carla comes to visit whilst Enzo is at nursery, she watches Luca for me whilst I do chores round the house and one morning I managed to have a bath – in peace! A rare treat!”
Both Caroline and Dan’s families live too far away to help regularly and all of Caroline’s friends on the base have their own children to cope with, leaving Caroline to do everything on her own. “Friends try and help and they are there if I need a chat. But it’s often the practical help I need most.”
For the Thompson family, getting help from the Trust has made a huge impact on their lives. Now they have the help of an Outreach Worker, access to the facilities at The Bluebells and all the events, the help has been life-changing for Caroline. “Everyone is so helpful! Sebastian’s Action Trust is understanding. There is clear acceptance by everyone involved – the staff and other families. I now have somewhere to reach out for support when I need it.