When our son was born three and half months prematurely, we knew that when we finally got him home, we would have challenges to face that most parents wouldn’t. Our biggest challenge was that our son needed 24hr oxygen which meant he had to be connected to an oxygen machine with a nasal cannula taped to his face. Since we needed to keep a very close eye on him to make sure he didn’t pull out that nasal cannula, which was at the time his lifeline, we found it very difficult to do simple chores and cook meals as we couldn’t leave him alone for long, even when he was asleep.
Our Health Visitor told us about Home Link Family Support and how they can help families like us, by matching us with a volunteer to give us some support. After a referral, we quickly met one of the co-ordinators. We discussed how a Home Link volunteer could help us and for our family, it was having a volunteer who could come and sit with our son in our home and look after him for a couple of hours once a week to let me (or my husband when I returned to work) get some work done around the house and cook healthy meals.
Within a couple of weeks Home Link had found someone they thought would be a match and after meeting her for the first time, we felt very comfortable. Those two hours every week meant the world to me as a new mum with a baby on oxygen support. I knew my son was safe and being looked after which gave me the confidence and time to cook healthy food for us and get some of those dreaded chores, like the laundry, done. We had a great relationship with our volunteer and as he got older we could see our son enjoyed his weekly visits - he began to recognise our volunteer and would get excited when she would arrive.
We were lucky enough to have our volunteer for nearly 9 months and while the main benefit was to give me time to cook meals and clean, the added benefit was the development our son had from the interaction he had with our volunteer as she sang to him, played games with him and read him books. That’s also the reason we started going to the Stay & Play group set up by Home Link. It was another option for bringing development opportunities to our son but also a place where we could meet other parents, some of whom are also Home Link families and who also faced additional challenges with their new families.
We would highly recommend Home Link Family Support and the service they provide, it made such a difference to us at a time when we really needed it and we are very grateful for that.