Road to Respite – Helping families in Geelong

Last week we announced that we had formed a significant partnership which would enable regional families living with a child that has life-threatening illnesses the opportunity to access respite care.

Thanks to over $156,000 of funding from the William Buckland Foundation, Road to Respite is a joint initiative of Very Special Kids and the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) providing free-of-charge transport for regional children with life-threatening conditions to Very Special Kids Hospice in Malvern.

One of the families that have already benefited from the new service is the Bell family from Geelong.

Thirteen-year-old Alivia Bell was born with Rett Syndrome, a severe genetic disorder of the nervous system. Alivia can’t walk or talk, has frequent seizures and requires 24-hour-care for all her basic needs.

Mother Fiona explains travelling with Alivia can be difficult because of her high needs.

“Driving a long distance with Liv can be stressful and I avoid doing it on my own. It helps having an extra pair of hands to help monitor her seizures and behaviour, to feed her and make sure she’s entertained as she can get irritated easily.”

But finding an extra person to accompany Fiona on drives isn’t always easy as her partner Michael works full time.

The family first trialled the Road to Respite service in January and Alivia was picked up by the van the same morning the family set off to Byron Bay for a well needed break.

“Alivia went for her holiday at Very Special Kids and it allowed us to go on our holiday where we could regroup and have a breather. Having Liv picked up certainly took away a lot of stress and it felt like more of a holiday because we didn’t have to worry.”

We are so thankful to all involved for making this service available and look forward to seeing it help more families in need.