By Danica MacLean

A respite care centre which caters for Northland’s youngest medically fragile residents has officially opened it’s doors.

Whangārei’s Kind Hands Respite Care Cottage, which was the dream of nurse Sharlene Clements, had it’s first official day yesterday.

“[It is] a trusting home-like environment with people they [parents] can trust to look after their children,” Clements said.

The cottage provides respite care to children from newborns to age 6 who have medical needs, so their parents can go to the supermarket, spend time with their other children or just have a break.

Eli Barnes, Sharlene Clements and Shelby Porowini enjoy playing cars on the first day of Kind Hands.

Clements said the children can come with feeding pumps, home oxygen supplies, specialised medication and more. A registered nurse is always on site and can take care of those needs.

“It’s not a job for me, it’s my heart.”

It looks like a four bedroom home, with the required medical components discretely installed.

It was build by Clements’ husband Dave over the past six months.

Clements and plenty of others pitched in to paint and pave and “get it over the line”.

Various donations and help filled the inside with beds, toys and books.

“It’s a pretty cool feeling to watch your dream come true.”

Eli Barnes was one of the first children at Kind Hands.

She said Sunday was the first time she spent in the cottage alone, and really had the chance to soak in what they had achieved.

“I felt really emotional about it.”

An official opening was held on Saturday, where supporters and contributors gathered.

The cottage can take six children overnight, and eight to 10 during the day.

A quote which adorns the wall of one of the bedrooms.

Clements had two children on the first day, 1-year-old Eli Barnes who has a neuromuscular disease, and 16-month-old Shelby Porowini who has Down Syndrome.

She also had one boy stay overnight on Sunday.

To start, she is open from Monday to Friday but plans to move to providing 24 hour care from Wednesday to Sunday.

Caregiver Ngaire Bristol feeds 16 month old Shelby Porowini. Photo/John Stone

“Most people who want to go away, want to go away on the weekend.”

Kind Hands will take referrals from agencies, as well as talking to families directly.

She said a lot of families have funding, or will qualify for funding to help cover the costs of attending the cottage.

Clements said she is now in the process of setting up a charitable trust which will sit alongside the cottage, and will help pay for specialised equipment and ensure all children have access to the care.

Source: Northern Advocate


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