3 October 2023

Helping to build a support network for families of children with complex medical needs

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In the summer, staff at Calareidh and Sunndach, hosted their annual garden party to help families of children and young people with complex medical needs or capabilities connect with others who are facing similar challenges. This year marked 20 years of supporting so many children and their families, providing precious memories as well as expert care.

Sunndach and Calareidh are two purpose-built bungalows that serve as a haven for these children and young people. However, the families often find themselves isolated due to the unique challenges they face. Staff apply for funding through NHS Lothian Charity to host their annual garden party, so that families whose children have stayed in the bungalows can connect, share stories, and build a support network. The party welcomes siblings along too.

The event is designed to be relaxed, with a variety of entertainment and delicious food. Musician Gerry’s performance this year also added to the festive atmosphere.

“This event is something we do every year. The idea behind the garden party is that we have a lot of families that use the service, but they don’t necessarily get the chance to catch up and speak to each other. Often, the children come in from school and they go back home, so it’s only by coincidence, if the parents happen to come in at the same time, they may say ‘hi’. As you can imagine, it can be quite lonely.

“They come to the garden party, and it’s relaxed, there is food and entertainment. They look forward to it. Patients often ask when the next party will be.”

Rona Watson, Senior Charge Nurse

Calareidh is an absolutely fantastic respite facility. It is a home away from home and feels like an extended family. Having children with severe and complex needs is a daily challenge, so being able to have this amazing respite facility has been wonderful. It is a friendly and nurturing environment and the staff are just fabulous. Knowing that your children are having fun and being well looked after when getting a little break is just priceless.”

Lynne & John

In Gaelic, Sunndach means ‘happy place’ but it means much more than that for our daughter Susan. It means a home away from home where she can enjoy the independent social life that all children and teenagers need. It means time for her brother Paul to have his Mum and Dad to himself. It means a night out for us with no cares or need to rush back. It means peace of mind knowing Susan is receiving the best care from staff who are dedicated, experienced and really know her well. It means fun. It means laughter. It means joy. It means life. It means love.”


Calareidh and Sunddach offer children and young people with complex medical needs and disabilities long-term residential or short-term respite care in a homely environment. They are staffed by a dedicated 24-hour team of specialist nurses and healthcare professionals.

Each house has a multisensory room where the children can relax and enjoy activities alongside a fully-accessible outdoor space and gardens, for fresh air and games. An adapted minibus supports the children to enjoy regular outings and clown doctors also visit each house on a fortnightly basis. Events are also organised throughout the year, including BBQs, fancy dress parties and a Christmas carol concert.

These events serves as a heart-warming testament to the importance of support networks and understanding in the journey of caregiving. Happy Birthday and here’s to the next 20 years!

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