Care with compassion

The first of its kind in the UK and funded entirely by charitable donations, Magnolia House provides a safe-haven for parents and families at their time of need. Named because of the magnolia trees found in the hospital’s garden, Magnolia House sets the benchmark for palliative care across the UK, providing care for children and families living with terminal illnesses or those who have complex diagnoses and need help to understand and control their child’s symptoms.

The thoughtfully designed Magnolia House has three pastel-coloured private counselling rooms, a calming lounge area, a siblings play area and a private peaceful garden where families can sit and reflect. The roof of the building is covered with grass and embedded with twinkle lights to provide in-patients overlooking Magnolia House a scenic and magical view from the windows of the hospital.

Approximately 100 life-changing conversations take place with families and patients at Birmingham Children’s Hospital every year. Magnolia House offers a space where families can spend as long as they need together, before they feel ready to face the world again.

Complementary therapies at Magnolia House

Families face the added stress of being in an unfamiliar, highly stressful environment like the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) where they are cared for. Access to supportive care through the provision of complementary therapies can help to relieve suffering and models compassionate care.

Fear and anxiety are often mistaken as physical pain and the potential is therefore to medicate. It is widely accepted in palliative and bereavement care that distraction and support through touch, interaction, communication and expression are effective ways to manage fear and anxiety. BCH does not currently provide this service.

The therapists will deliver treatments facilitating relaxation, resilience and coping for children and families.  Impact on families has been remarkable - staff reporting children needed less analgesia after therapeutic sessions.

Art therapy

Art therapy is a form of emotional support through the use of art materials to express thoughts, feelings and experiences to address emotional issues which may be confusing and distressing.

Art therapy helps children in being creative, providing a different way of communicating, communicating issues that may feel difficult or confusing, expressing feelings, exploring changes, thinking about loss, helping with pain. They encourage to express emotions and help improve relationships with other people.  Some adults and children find it easier to express difficult emotions and painful times through being creative, rather than trying to talk things through.

Art therapy can take many forms, including drawing, painting, sculpture, collage or 3-D work and using tools such as iPads, smartphones and digital cameras.  Art therapists use a variety of techniques within a safe and confidential setting to help people.

Therapeutic massage

The use of physical touch through massage is proven to be an effective method to connect with individuals and help to facilitate conversation. Parents and carers of sick children are most likely to be physically and emotionally challenged by the nature of their child being so ill.  The use of physical touch through massage is proven to be an effective method to connect with individuals and help to facilitate conversation.

Therapeutic storytelling

Stories use metaphor and imagery to change the way we see our lives and the world, offering healing and growth to everyone - teller and listener alike. They connect us to each other and help us find meaning and hope. Therapeutic storytelling can change the way we see our lives and the world. Using metaphor, stories offers healing to everyone.

We need funding to offer access  to the range of complementary therapies such as art therapy, massage and storytelling, which will allow the palliative care team to offer additional supportive care when life is limited. Working within the multi-disciplinary team the therapists can give alternative non drug based strategies for managing symptoms.