During these journeys, a devoted parent or caregiver has been there, providing strength and support during their child’s recovery. 

But, the stress of daily life in a hospital can be difficult and sometimes take a toll.   

So, how can parents or caregivers recharge their emotional batteries?

Last year, Blythedale’s Family Resource Committee (F.R.C.), comprised of representatives from the Hospital’s Social Work, Therapeutic Recreation, Child Life and Volunteer departments, pondered that question until an answer literally rolled in - a Spa Cart.

This free, weekly service brings high-end toiletries, refreshments and other personal care items to parents and caregivers staying bedside, as a way for them to indulge someone they often overlook - themselves. 

“Many of our parents or caregivers spend a lot of time at the Hospital - around the clock - with their child,” said Katie Walsh, L.C.S.W., Director of Social Work and Care Coordination for Blythedale Children’s Hospital.  “So things like this just help them feel better about being here while helping to promote self-care for our families.”

The Spa Cart pilot program was funded through a generous grant by Neuberger Berman and within weeks became so popular that it was expanded to an entire day of pampering. That’s when Spa Day took shape.

This three-hour long, inaugural event welcomed numerous parents and caregivers to take a break from hospital life and get free massages, make selections from the Spa Cart and enjoy complementary food or beverages.

Word of mouth quickly spread and in May, Spa Day grew to a four-hour program and saw a 35% increase in attendance.  Businesses like Stop & Shop and Starbucks also stepped up to help with complementary catering, while a massage therapist and yoga instructor were brought in to join this special cause.  Plus, the Spa Cart returned with facial masks, lotions and many more goodies. 

“All of it was amazing and just what you need because being here sometimes gets stressful and this was a ray of sunshine for all of us,” said Alexa, the mother of a patient. “I went back to my room afterward and felt restored.”

Another parent staying at Blythedale with her medically fragile child, echoed similar sentiments following the event. “Going through this type of situation, with a baby born with birth defects, is a long, tiring process, not only for the baby but the parents as well.  In order to be strong for your child, you need to take care of yourself and Spa Day lets you recharge.”

The continued success of Spa Day and the Spa Cart has Blythedale’s Family Resource Committee looking at ways to increase their frequency.

“When parents or caregivers are cared for, they care for their children in the best way with a long lasting ripple effect because when you feel refreshed and rejuvenated, you put your best foot forward,” said Blythedale Senior Child Life Special Jessica Dadigan, M.S., C.C.L.S., and member of the F.R.C.  “The next Spa Day is October 6, 2018, but our hope is that we could offer a monthly or quarterly Spa Day to meet the needs of so many more families.”

In order to turn this hope into reality, you can lend a hand by donating services, items or funds to facilitate more Spa Days and the replenishment of the Spa Cart.  Corporate support would be particularly helpful.

If you would like more information about how to help, please contact Jessica Dadigan, M.S., C.C.L.S., Senior Child Life Specialist, at (914) 592-7555 x 71524/jdadigan@blythedale.org.