Bear Cottage is the only children’s hospice in NSW, one of only three in Australia, and the only one in the world directly affiliated with a children’s hospital. It is a very special place that’s dedicated to providing support, respite and end of life care for children with life-limiting conditions and their families.
Since funding our first time Social Worker position, Kids with Cancer has provided invaluable assistance to families.
Sharing the Social Work role, 2021
Kathy Taylor & Miranda Harry funded by Kids with Cancer Foundation
Bear Cottage over $1million to date
In 2012 we asked Bear Cottage how we could help them, their request was for a full time social worker making that year our 1st year of support for Bear Cottage in Sydney’s Manly. We had initially pledged to support a full time social worker (Bear Cottage’s first) for a minimum 3 years, 5 years on we’re still proud to provide that level of support and it will continue.
That full time position made it our 4th social worker position supported, out of 5 in total, with another 2 at Westmead and 1 at Sydney Children’s (now funded by NSW Health) and 1 at Monash Children’s in Victoria.
We (Bear Cottage) have asked for the assistance of Kids with Cancer Foundation to help us continue our vital support of the children, and their families that come to Bear Cottage.
Brain-child of Dr John Vu, CEO at the time and Dr Michael Stevens from the Oncology Department of the Hospital – Bear Cottage is an initiative of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. It is designed to be a medically supported home away from home, offering families a physical and emotional break from the stressful task of caring for such a sick child.
As far removed from a hospital environment as possible, Bear cottage staff do not wear uniforms; no medical procedures are carried out in the bedrooms; the children’s rooms are designed to look like a normal bedroom, and we even have a family pet, Frankie, our adorable Labrador. That said, Bear Cottage is set up to provide excellence in paediatric medical care 24 hours a day, and our affiliation to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead means we have access to the best medical resources in the world.
Bear Cottage is available at no charge to families
Families do not pay for any Bear Cottage services, and all costs of operating are raised entirely through donations from the community. By having Bear Cottage available to families at no charge means they can take a break and re-charge their batteries, safe in the knowledge that their child is being cared for by the best staff available. They can enjoy time with one another without having to worry about the housework and cooking. Most importantly though, they can spend quality time together and create special memories that will last long after their child has passed away.
For the special kids that stay with us, there is no happy ending, no miracle cure. This is heartbreaking to think about. But that’s only part of the story.
“When a child accesses Bear Cottage for end of life care the social work role is heavily involved and accepted by families. End of life care is understandably very emotional for our parents and siblings. As a result of developing close relationships with the families during respite admissions social work has a well-established rapport with them. We work closely with the children and families at the end of the child’s life, providing information, counselling, sibling support, supportive conversations, attending medical appointments and preparing parents, siblings and other family members for their child’s death and the immediate few days after when they may stay at Bear Cottage.
We’re here to assist
We also assist with planning for funerals, financial assistance and referrals for specialist ongoing support. Social Work plays a role in memory making at Bear Cottage. Social Work supports parents and children to make tangible memories with their child before saying goodbye. Memory Making helps parents create keepsakes to keep the memory of their child alive. Allowing them to feel forever connected to their child once he or she is gone”.
Even though the outlook for these kids is a sad one, Bear Cottage is actually one of the most uplifting and inspiring places you could ever visit. Here, children laugh and play. Life is celebrated, lived to its fullest and also fondly remembered.
At Bear Cottage we believe that life, however brief, should be enriched, enjoyed and celebrated. Ours is a home full of special moments and cherished memories. Here, life is for living.