TLC for Kids is proud to be partnering with one of Victoria’s most respected institutions, Ambulance Victoria, to introduce The TLC Ambulance.
In 2019, the TLC Ambulance began delivering special moments to sick children in palliative care, transporting them to their most treasured places to experience that joy one last time. The experience will be captured and commemorated for the family.
Sitting by a favourite lake
Patting their dog at the park or at home
An ice-cream on the shore of the beach
A day trip to the zoo with the whole family
Visiting a friend or grandparent
Prior to the TLC Ambulance, there was no system available in Australia to provide medically appropriate transport for terminally ill patients, other than standard hospital to hospital, hospital to home or home to hospital transfers.
The TLC Ambulance service was developed as a response to this gap. The service was greatly informed by conversations with a TLC Mum, Jemima (an Ambulance Victoria Paramedic), who offered invaluable advice as someone who has experienced the loss of a child due to terminal illness.
It came to light that an important component of caring for and humanising terminally ill patients is being able to provide, as much as possible, for a special, final request of the patient and their family. This provides comfort for the patient and enables the family to create happy memories to take with them into the future.
Most palliative patients have medical requirements that make normal transport difficult or impossible, and this is, therefore, a significant impediment to fulfilling their very special requests.
On our very first TLC Ambulance trip, we took Stephie, her mum Kylie and brother Robbie to Werribee Zoo for the day. Stephie has Mitochondrial Disorder and usually has to use a wheelchair to move around, but is an avid animal lover and wanted nothing more than to go to the zoo!
Before leaving the VSK offices in Malvern, Stephie beamed “I’m ready for the time of my life!” She spent hours wandering the zoo and engaging with zookeepers, soaking up the atmosphere and brightening the day of every single person she came across. As an added bonus, the presence of TLC for Kids team and Ambulance Victoria paramedics enabled Kylie to relax and spend one-on-one time with Robbie, and do the simple things (without the burden of stress) that most of us take for granted.
On our second TLC Ambulance trip, we took little Aria, suffering from complex genetic conditions, her twin brother and extended family, to Melbourne Zoo. We were able to give a bit of relief to them, and give them some time to be a family.
This was the first family outing for the family and it proved to be a well deserved and much-needed outing for them all.
The volunteer Ambulance Victoria Paramedics were amazing additional support.
Andy had been going through a pretty tough time and the family had struggled to go on an outing due to his health complications.
Thanks to the TLC Ambulance, we were able to take Andy and his family on a day trip to Werribee Zoo, where they enjoyed the Wild Life Safari and some family time together, without the stress of worrying about the trip back and forth to their home.
This was a real dream come true for Noah who wanted to meet an Alpaca so we arranged it for him and his Mum.
Noah’s favourite book is Macca the Alpaca, and even though this Alpaca’s name wasn’t Macca, it was just as good.
The day proved to be a lovely outing for Noah and his Mum, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves and now have cherished memories of a beautiful day together.