Watch as parents enjoy pampering as Sunderland's Grace House holds a Carers Appreciation Day

Parents of children with disabilities have been enjoying a day of relaxation and pampering thanks to Grace House’s Carers Appreciation Day.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 3:04 pm

Grace House supports parents of children with both physical and mental special needs by providing short breaks, respite care, counselling and an array of fun activities for both children and parents.

For families with children who may be severely autistic or have conditions such as cerebral palsy, it can be a very demanding and isolating experience with little time for carers to focus on their own wellbeing.

Grace House decided to have a day of role reversals with carers give a day of respite in which they would be cared for with time to themselves and a whole range of pamper experiences.

As well as the chance to relax, parents and carers could enjoy pamper treatments including nail painting and accessories, Moroccan scalp massage, hot oil hand massage, gong bath and yoga.

Tracy Cruddas’s 15-year-old daughter, Katie, has cerebral palsy and was the first child to use the respite weekend service when the facility opened.

Tracy, 49, said: “Katie really enjoys her time at Grace House as it gives her a chance to socialise with other children. We don’t have support from family or friends so this is a vital service which I rely on.

"Looking after a disabled child can be very isolating. It’s nice to be pampered as it’s not something I would normally get the chance to do. When you are at home you feel guilty about doing anything for yourself.

Lisa Defty receives a head massage at the Grace House Carers Appreciation Day.

"I’m going to get the massage, gong bath and have my nails done.”

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She was joined by daughter Amy, who highlighted the role whole families often play when caring for a child with special educational learning needs and disabilities (SEND).

Amy, 20, said: “I was a young carer for Katie. It’s nice I was invited along as people think it’s just parents who are carers but it’s siblings as well.

Viola Legzdina receiving a nail treatment at the Grace House Carers Appreciation Day.

"It’s also nice to see my mam get pampered for the day.”

For many parents the day also afforded the opportunity to mix and empathise with families in similar situations.

Deborah Halliday, 43, travels from South Shields to the centre where she can access support for her autistic son who’s also non verbal.

She said: “It’s lovely to come along and be pampered but it’s also great to interact with other parents who are in the same situation – in may ways that’s the most important thing.

Carers experiencing a gong bath treatment.

"It can be very demanding for parents but you just get used to it. I’m getting my nails done and having a massage. Normally I just wouldn’t get the time with all the appointments I need to attend.”

Lisa Defty, whose son Luke has Down syndrome, added: “It’s a chance to meet and speak with other parents. It’s fantastic to be pampered for the day but also a little strange as it’s the first time I’ve had any of these treatments.”

Staff at Grace House organised the event to allow parents the opportunity to focus on their own wellbeing.

Communications Officer Anjanna Tivegna said: “I think a lot of parents and carers feel isolated as they’re so focused on the needs of the child. Today’s about providing an opportunity for them to feel special about themselves.”