Susannah is one of the first siblings to receive support at Derian House when the hospice opened.
“We were one of the first families to use Derian.” Said Susannah, “My brother Tim had complex needs including epilepsy, asthma, and learning difficulties. My mum was his full time carer.
“Before Derian House opened, we used Martin House in Yorkshire, but it was a very long journey each way. When Derian opened, we were sad to say goodbye to our friends at Martin House, but we couldn’t turn down a hospice almost literally on our doorstep!
“I remember being at the official opening of Derian House. I would have been 12 or 13, and Tim would have been about 10. We would spend pretty much the whole day in the sensory room, with staff or my parents checking in on us occasionally.” Said Susannah, “I was quite offended when some of the dignitaries assumed that I was Tim’s mum!
“In the years after that, we used Derian a lot. It meant that my parents and me could go away for holidays without worrying about Tim – we knew he would be spoiled rotten at Derian.
“One time we got back and the nurses had cut his hair and they had put the clipper on a very short setting,” Laughed Susannah, “They were really worried about our reaction! We didn’t mind – it grew back very quickly anyway.
“Even though we lived nearby, we sometimes used the family accommodation upstairs, particularly when my mum was in hospital and Derian was the only place that could support us. I remember walking to and from school through Astley Park – a real change from my usual two buses.
“We were lucky to find a wonderful adult placement for Tim, but we still kept in touch with Derian House.” Said Susannah, “During his final illness, when he was 29, Derian even offered to let us bring him in for his final days. An option we sadly weren’t able to take up as he was too unstable to move from the hospital, but still really appreciated.
“I have so many wonderful memories of Derian,” Said Susannah, “I am so grateful for the times we spent there and all the wonderful staff. It was a true lifeline, and gave us the chance to be a family and give Tim the best quality of life possible.
“I love seeing all the ways that Derian has changed over the years, from the very staid chintz decor when it opened, to the much brighter child-friendly rooms when I was last there, and all the wonderful changes you’ve made since then.”