Ever the showman, Luca never fails to make an impression. The cheeky chappy, who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy Quadriplegia as a toddler, likes nothing more than being the centre of attention – something there’s no shortage of at Bluebell Wood. Mum Tracy shares their story…

After a dramatic beginning to his life where he was diagnosed with meningitis as a newborn, the family left the Neonatal Unit a month later oblivious to the challenges to come.

As time went on, Luca failed to meet many of his developmental milestones; but he was 18-months old before his family found the answers they’d been looking for.

“I’ve worked with adults with learning disabilities for many years and I knew something wasn’t quite right,” said Tracy.

“Knowing this and not having the answers was very difficult – there was so much uncertainty.

“So when we were given the diagnosis it was like someone had pulled the rug from underneath us. Although we knew something wasn’t right, we didn’t expect it to be so devastating.”

Luca, who has two older brothers Liam and Michele, has the most severe form of Cerebral Palsy. The condition means he’s unable to control his arms, legs and body, is non-verbal and is fed through a special tube that goes into his stomach.

The complex, 24/ 7 nature his care is incredibly challenging for the whole family, not least Michele who is just four years older than Luca.

“Michele has struggled more than anyone else. He expected to have a little playmate, but Luca takes up the majority of my time because of his needs and that can be really difficult for him.”

Luca has always reveled in the limelight, something that has also been challenging for his brother.

“Luca’s such a happy chap. Everybody who meets him remembers him and falls in love with him.

"The downside is that the more that he shines, the more Michele becomes an observer in life and retreats into his shell.”

When a community nurse suggested visiting Bluebell Wood for support, Tracy had no idea that the charity’s support extends to the whole family.

“We had an initial visit then decided to have an overnight stay as a family. It was fantastic. There’s just everything you could possibly need at the hospice. All the right equipment and creature comforts.

“I think Luca enjoyed it from the outset. He can often get distressed in unfamiliar surroundings, but he draws people to him and once he gets the attention he soon overcomes it.

“Our favourite thing is just having that break and knowing that that your child is well looked after. It gives you such reassurance.

“Michele has also been to the sibling support groups, which he loves.

"He gets to mix with other children who are in a similar position which is really helpful. Other children don’t always understand what life is like for Michele.”

Bluebell Wood have continued to be there for the family throughout the pandemic, while Luca’s been busy mastering his new power chair.

“It’s one thing to be in a wheelchair all the time but to be able to control it himself and get to where he wants to go is something else.

“He controls it with the movement of his head, a special head rest. It takes a lot of concentration but he’s doing remarkably well.

“We’ve also had regular phone calls from Bluebell Wood throughout the pandemic, with someone calling to see how we are, which has been great.

“Sometimes you battle on without thinking about the help that’s out there so it’s been really helpful to know that someone’s thinking of us.”

Help Bluebell Wood be there for families like Luca's