Whether measured in years, months, weeks or days, Rotary Flames House helps make the most of every child’s life. And sadly, while not every child can be saved, they can all be cherished.
Rotary Flames House
In 2009, our community recognized the extraordinary needs of families facing the unimaginable – losing a child – and rallied together to build the beautiful facility that is Rotary Flames House. Today the House, located next door to the Alberta Children’s Hospital, is one of only six pediatric hospices in Canada and the only one in Alberta.
In this beautiful two-storey home, children with complex and life-limiting medical conditions and their families can access respite care, therapeutic programming, symptom management and transition care, as well as compassionate end of life care and grief support. The Alberta Children’s Hospital, Alberta Health Services and generous donors provide this complete continuum of care to help children live their best lives possible, however long or short.
A multi-disciplinary team including registered nurses, health care aides, Child Life therapists, social workers, spiritual health practitioners and pharmacy technicians provides round the clock care and is committed to ensuring each child and family’s physical, developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs are met in a compassionate manner.
While Alberta Health Services funds many operational expenses of Rotary Flames House, it is community support which ensures the broadest range of services are available for this special group of children and their families. Read more in our 2023 Report to the Community below or download the report here.
Rotary Flames House Report to the Community (2022/23)
Services and Supports at Rotary Flames House
Sadly, while not every child can be saved, every child can be cherished. Their parents, and the palliative care team at Rotary Flames House make sure of it.
When a child’s death is expected to be imminent, this team of doctors and nurses, while managing pain or other symptoms for the child, ensures a family can treasure final moments together in whatever way that brings the child joy.
Whether it’s helping the child attend a concert at school, spend quality time playing with friends, or cross something off their bucket list, helping a child experience that joy during their end of life is one of the team’s greatest privileges.
For parents caring for a child with complex medical needs, their daily routine may involve feeding tubes, oxygen tanks, power chairs, and medication schedules – on top of the usual responsibilities of being Mom and Dad.
Being on alert for medical emergencies 24/7 can impact a parent’s time or ability to do basic things, like sleep, eat, run errands, connect with their other children and with friends and family, or take time to relax.
Thanks to community support for respite care, these loving, resilient parents can leave their child in the hands of highly specialized nurses, doctors, health care aides, respiratory therapists, Child Life Specialists and the Therapeutic Arts team at the House with peace of mind their child’s care will continue uninterrupted.
They can take some valuable time for themselves to rest and recharge, knowing their child is happy and safe.
From the time of a child’s diagnosis, throughout their illness and after their death, grief and bereavement support is offered for families by compassionate social workers at the House.
Through one-on-one counselling and supportive group sessions, the team helps bereaved parents learn how to create an ongoing relationship with their child, honour their memory and manage feelings associated with grief and trauma.
Child Life Specialists also offer a Sibling Grief Support program that focusses on coping and understanding the grief journey through a developmental lens.
Being a child with complex medical needs can often be isolating as many “traditional” recreational opportunities are not possible for them.
At Rotary Flames House, children can take part in therapeutic and recreational programs adapted to their unique needs. The Child Life team, who develops these programs, complement the nursing team by focusing on the psychosocial needs of the child. From playing the drum in a music therapy group, to touching the soil with a horticultural therapist, to sensory activities with a Child Life Specialist, children are offered a wide variety of recreational and educational opportunities not readily available in their home communities.
Five days a week, children can also enjoy sensory-based learning with a Calgary Board of Education teacher.
The care teams at the House also specialize in symptom management to help relieve the adverse physical and emotional symptoms of a child’s condition and the side effects of treatments to avoid admissions to hospital. For those children who have been acutely ill and hospitalized, Rotary Flames House offers a safe place to fully stabilize before returning home.
During respite stays, the team helps families reinforce teachings they have had in hospital, regarding, for example, any new care needs for their child. The team also supports by phone and sometimes goes to the home when a child’s condition changes to help families adjust and manage care in their home setting.
Thanks to incredible community support, children and their families feel loved and at home at Rotary Flames House.
Read more about your impact at Rotary Flames House below and in Where Your Money Goes.
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