Any parent wants to keep their child safe, but how do you protect your child from themselves?! When 17-year-old Andrew Dicken started self-harming he wasn’t able to tell his parents why – so they made the difficult decision to move Andrew into 24 hour respite care where they knew he would be safe. However, thanks to a special bed provided by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, it’s time for Andrew to come home.
Andrew, who is from Tenbury Wells, has Global Developmental Delay, severe learning difficulties and Autistic traits – he uses a wheelchair in order to get around, is unable to speak and has no awareness of danger. Earlier this year, Andrew suddenly became very depressed. Unable to express himself he began to self-harm, inflicting injuries to his face, eyes and ears caused by banging his head against walls, bed frames and his wheelchair.
A month in hospital revealed that it was likely that Andrew had been suffering from a stomach ulcer, but as he was unable to communicate the pain he was in his parents aren’t 100 percent certain this was what caused him to hurt himself. They soon made the heart-breaking decision to move Andrew to fulltime respite care where the use of a special Safespace bed would keep him protected during the night.
The family knew that the only way Andrew could be safe in his home was if he had a Safespace of his own, but with a specialist bed costing nearly £6,000 they turned to Newlife Foundation, the UK’s largest charitable provider of essential equipment to meet the specialist needs of children with disabilities and terminal illness
Andrew’s dad, Jon Dicken, said: “Andrew has been in respite care for nearly six months now – it has been incredibly difficult for us not having him around. Since Newlife provided us with the bed we have been able to slowly integrate him back into family life – it would be too much for him just to bring him straight home on a full time basis so we have been doing it gradually. At first he just came home at the weekends and we are slowly building him up to coming home permanently.
“The new bed allows Andrew to feel safe – it’s very similar to the one he uses at the respite home, so it isn’t too different for him. He loves to lie in it and listen to his music – it’s a place where we know he can’t hurt himself which is a weight off our minds. His mum and I are really looking forward to having him home properly, being able to take him swimming again and spending time together as a family.”
Newlife Foundation has created a specific Newlife Worcestershire Fund in order to support the provision of specialist equipment to under-19s in the county area who are facing significant disability, whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness. The website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/worcestershire enables local people to find out who needs help in the area right now and highlights the support given to local families.
Newlife has already helped 155 children within Worcestershire, with equipment worth £270,324. But more help is still needed – there are currently 7 children in Worcestershire at the moment who urgently need specialist equipment totalling £9,834.
For more information about the Newlife Worcestershire Fund, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/worcestershire or email [email protected] Alternatively you can call the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431444.
Pictured: Andrew Dicken