We recently caught up with Hettie, a Demelza Healthcare Assistant who delivers care at home for the families we support in West Kent, to find out more about Tunbridge Wells Dots – our newest Little Dots playgroup offering.

“I was really passionate about bringing Little Dots to West Kent,” says Hettie, who has been with Demelza since 2019. “I know that a lot of families in the area want to attend Little Dots sessions but can’t always make the journey to our Sittingbourne hospice. With the cost of living on the rise, and the extra costs the families of children with complex needs naturally face anyway, we wanted to provide a better option.”

Tunbridge Wells Dots takes place once a week at the Harmony Children’s Centre, letting children under five play and take part in fun seasonally-themed activities under the care of Demelza Healthcare Assistants and Registered Nurses. Parents and family members, meanwhile, can have a much-needed hot drink and a catch-up with other families like themselves.

“The families who have attended so far don’t know each other, and one family shared with me that they have felt quite isolated in the past due to their child’s unique condition and the hard work that comes with it,” says Hettie. “Little Dots is a really exciting opportunity for them to forge new friendships with families who understand their circumstances – friendships that will hopefully go beyond just the weekly sessions.”

The new group also represents Demelza’s commitment in our five-year strategy to include the children and families we support in our decision-making. “Originally the sessions were taking place on a Friday, but we had feedback from families that led to us changing it to a Monday – and attendance has shot up since, so it was obviously the right choice! We’re also looking at offering sessions at the weekend to give as many families as possible the chance to come along,” says Hettie.

Hettie wants to keep up the momentum in Tunbridge Wells, based on the success of these pilot sessions – she is currently on the hunt for a bigger venue, so she can get additional monthly sessions up and running for children of all ages.

“I’m really pleased to be leading the charge as we grow the offering in West Kent, since many of the families now attending Tunbridge Wells Dots are families I already support with care at home – like Kit’s family, whose story you can read here. It’s lovely to see familiar faces taking advantage of the sessions every week, and hopefully the numbers continue to grow!”

If you currently access Demelza’s services and you’d like to attend a Little Dots session in your area, please get in touch by emailing careadministration@demelza.org.uk