Rennie Grove has all the best toys for children under hospice care

Children enjoy Rennie Grove's treasure trove of toys at Grove House

Children enjoy Rennie Grove's treasure trove of toys at Grove House - Credit: Rennie Grove Hospice Care

With cupboards of beautiful toys, incredible tech, and all the playmates one could wish for, Karen Raney-Marr has the job of children’s dreams.

Karen is a play specialist for Rennie Grove’s Children’s Hospice at Home team. Her role is to work alongside her nursing colleagues, complementing their specialist clinical care with a vital dose of fun.

Based at Rennie Grove’s beautifully refurbished Grove House in St Albans, Karen and her colleague Katie run a busy mix of group sessions and home visits, catering for the varied needs of the children under Rennie Grove’s care.

For children too unwell to come out to play, Karen and Katie provide virtual group sessions and visit children at home. On average, Karen makes two home visits a day.

“Each morning I will think about who I’m visiting and then open my toy cupboards and pack my bags accordingly”, she says.

Nice work if you can get it, though a play specialist’s job isn’t as easy as it might sound.

Karen explains: “Many children under our care have developmental challenges, or are experiencing a gradual loss of skills, so families need support with overcoming these barriers to play.

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"Fortunately, we have very generous supporters who have helped us secure some fabulous specialist play equipment.

"For example, we have a pop-up sensory dome, a virtual reality headset, and a whole range of toys which have been adapted with switches, so the child can still play with the toy by pressing a simple button rather than having to do a more complicated movement."

For children who are well enough, play sessions at Grove House provide a cheery change of scenery. These include the popular monthly gathering of the Children’s Support Group, which supports the siblings and children of patients, including those recently bereaved.

Sessions never fail to be lively, especially with the exciting array of toys, activities and playmates in the mix.

The Rennie Grove Children’s Hospice at Home team currently support a caseload of 45 children across Buckinghamshire and West Herts, helping these families to avoid hospital admissions so they can stay together at home, making every moment matter.