Ella Gale’s mum Hayleigh admits she was nervous initially about the prospect of her daughter being cared for by someone else – but more than a year after Ella first came to Jigsaw, she couldn’t imagine Cumbria’s only children’s hospice not being part of her family’s life.
10-year-old Ella, from Carlisle, has a range of complex needs arising from being born with a smooth brain, an extremely rare condition. She has epilepsy and high muscle tone throughout her whole body, meaning she struggles to do a number of tasks and is wheelchair dependent as well as being non-verbal.
“Coming to Jigsaw was a very big step for me, as it is for any parent with a child who has additional needs or needs any sort of care,” Hayleigh says.
“But she absolutely loves it. The hesitation was more from me. It was a big push for me to do, but I needed to do it for her and she loves it, Jigsaw is amazing.”
In Hayleigh’s eyes, the biggest thing Jigsaw is able to provide for Ella is independence.
She adds: “I think that independence is huge for a child with complex needs and in Jigsaw she gets her own time, just to be her. She gets to have a lot of fun, meet new people and do lots of different things. She particularly loves all the messy play and absolutely loves the Smoothie Bar.
“She loves everything and loves having that one-to-one care, purely for her, which enables her to access the different activities she needs help with.”
As well as being able to help fulfil Ella’s life, the time spent in Jigsaw also has knock-on effects for the rest of family, meaning Hayleigh and husband Rob can make other memories with their two other children, nine-year-old Jacob and Benjamin who is just five months old.
“When Ella comes to Jigsaw it gives you that little bit of time to focus on the boys and do stuff that Ella isn’t able to do, as the world isn’t fully accessible,” Hayleigh continues.
“We get that time which is just for us too, just to chill and not have think about medication, feeding, changing etc. However, at the same time we really miss her when she’s not there.”