Aintree mum picks up national care award

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Hayley Smallman with her Wellchild Award ©Hayley Smallman

Hayley Smallman with her WellChild Award. Pic © Hayley Smallman

A mother from Aintree has been given special recognition for an initiative she introduced to promote awareness of the struggles that some families face.

The ‘#notanurse_but’ campaign, which was set up by Hayley Smallman, focuses on helping children with exceptional health needs and for their parents to be properly trained in looking after them at home.

This is combined with getting support from a group of people in the same situation, and Mrs Smallman received an accolade to acknowledge her efforts at the WellChild Awards at a ceremony in London this week.

Explaining its origins, Hayley told JMU Journalism: “The #notanurse_but campaign was started by a small group of parents who wanted to really shine a light on the high level of medical care that goes into keeping a child with very complex health needs at home and in the community and living a good life with their family.

The approach involves revealing the lives of the families through social media contributions about invasive and complex medical procedures and care routines for their children, as well as trying to balance their work and social life. The videos made by the parents are shared through WellChild and have collectively received more than 40,000 views so far.

Hayley’s daughter Holly, 14, is just one of the children that has complex health needs and the care needed to look after her is intense – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some of the conditions she has include cerebral palsy, epilepsy and chronic lung disease.

Hayley said: “You’ve got to be highly medically skilled to look after Holly and care for her appropriately to keep her safe and well. We have to be resuscitation trained, and in what to do if she has a dangerous epileptic seizure – we need to respond rapidly.

YouTube: 2016 WellChild Awards

“Our award was amazing – it was great to get the recognition and that just shows how successful our campaign has been.”

The national WellChild Awards were hosted on Monday at the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane, London, with a host of celebrities taking part.

Prince Harry was in attendance as the patron of the charity and, speaking at the event, he said: “It is one of those moments in life when you are left in awe at the strength of human character, particularly amongst those so young.

“Watching these children and young people face challenges with such determination, positivity and good humour, never fails to take my breath away.”

About James Harrison, JMU Journalism