As she sinks into the restoring heat of a natural hot spring pool, Chantal knows it was worth the hike in. The hot water relaxes her tired muscles. Breathing in the steam clears her mind. Above her she can see an eagle soaring effortlessly on the warm air currents. In this moment, Chantal is truly at peace.
That’s because Chantal and Joel’s son Keegan is staying at Matthew’s House, a respite home for children with complex care needs. Knowing that Keegan is lovingly and safely cared for by experienced, trained staff gives his parents the peace of mind they need to truly get the rest they deserve.
Keegan brings his parents a lot of joy.
“He wakes me up in the morning with his cute noises and I wake up with a smile on my face,” Chantal says. “It is so precious to hear his voice.”
But Keegan lives with multiple challenges that come with Global Developmental Delay and Cerebral Palsy. He cannot walk. He is able to vocalize but he does not talk. He has limited vision and is fed through a gastronomy tube. But Chantal says that because of his challenges, Keegan has changed her worldview.
“Keegan brings out the good in people.” She says. “Friends, family and complete strangers have shown us that they care and they are here for us.”
Chantal and Joel care for Keegan at home but when he gets sick, life stops. He has frequent bouts of pneumonia that make each breath a struggle, often landing him in hospital. Even a simple cold can last a month or more.
“We don’t leave the house. I don’t get much sleep as I provide round the clock suctioning every time he coughs so that he doesn’t choke. When he gets better, I really need a break.”
Getting that break is not that simple. Keegan’s complex care is beyond what the average person can provide. That’s why Matthew’s House is so important to families like this.
“Matthew’s House is great. They create such a detailed care plan that I know they will take care of Keegan just as I would.” Chantal, mom to Keegan
In fact, Chantal has such confidence in Keegan’s care plan that she has a copy printed out and kept in Keegan’s room at home just in case anything ever happens to her.
“I feel safer knowing that I’m not the only one who knows exactly how to care for him.”
Chantal and Joel love their son and try to include him in as many activities as they can. They’ve taken him on small hikes and he enjoys trips to the beach and camping. But Keegan will never go backpacking or zip-lining.
“One of the saddest things is that I cannot share that joy of nature with Keegan as much as I would like to,” she says. “But being able to leave Keegan with the wonderful staff at Matthew’s house means that I can still enjoy those things even if I can’t bring Keegan along.”
It is this whole family care that makes Matthew’s House unique. It costs nearly a million dollars annually to operate Matthew’s House, most of which comes from fundraisers and generous donations. Chantal hopes that people will consider a donation.
“Matthew’s House helps out the whole family,” she says. “It gives parents a well needed vacation from the stresses of caring for a child with severe disabilities. It gives other siblings the chance to be the centre of attention. And it is a safe, fun, loving place for a child to stay.”
Find out how you can support Matthew’s House and support families like Keegan’s.