Petrick family’s 1700km journey to the ‘Laklinyeri’ Beach House

“It just felt like people cared and that they knew this was hard for us,” Justine Petrick said about her family’s stay at the WCH Foundation’s ‘Laklinyeri’ Beach House.

Justine is mum to Xander, Isla and Theo. Xander has cerebral palsy and multiple severe disabilities due to this. He is wheelchair-bound, has a vision and a hearing impairment and is peg fed, meaning he requires around the clock care.

He’s also a bubbly boy who loves being around his friends and family.

“If he’s comfortable, he’s quite a happy kid,” Justine said, “And he’s very social, even though he’s nonverbal. He enjoys socializing and being around other children.”

Xander loving being around his family.

Xander loving being around his family.

Challenges in getting to the Beach House

Xander was born in Alice Springs but was severely unwell and brought to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“We started our life down at the Women’s and Children’s and it has been a part of our life ever since,” Justine said.

The Petrick family.

Xander is cared for by the Palliative Care Team at the WCH whose care extends to children in the Northern Territory. Xander has some medical visits locally but some where the family must travel to Adelaide.

The Petrick family love holidaying, but this has become challenging. A trip they had planned to the WCH Foundation’s Laklinyeri Beach House in January fell through and with that, the family made a tough decision.

“Because of Xander’s failing health, holidaying just became too difficult. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we wouldn’t ever go on holiday again with him,” Justine said.

After seeing some improvements in Xander’s health and speaking with the Palliative Care team though, Justine realised that maybe there was still hope for a family holiday.

Trip to the Beach House: attempt number two

In March, the Petrick family made the 1700km journey from Alice Springs to Victor Harbor to the WCH Foundation’s Laklinyeri Beach House. Donations made to the WCH Foundation fund stays at the House for families with children who have complex care needs or are in palliative care, as well as bereaved families.

The Petricks packed their car up with medical equipment, adjusted their vehicle to have Xander lying down to make it easier on him and had two nurses fly out and meet them at the Beach House. The family were the first from the Northern Territory to stay at the House and tested more of the House’s facilities than any visitors so far.

“I can honestly say I’m so happy we dug deep and had another crack at getting here,” Justine said.

“It has been the best holiday we’ve ever had.”

Xander had fun in the water, Isla and Theo loved playing with the cricket set and Justine and Clarke had a chance to rest and relax.

Xander having fun in the water.

Xander having fun in the water.

“One day we sat around and had a picnic on the grass at the House, playing cricket and table tennis. Xander just laid on the chair in between all of the different games that were happening and just was happy being around everyone,” Justine said.

“He enjoyed the fact that everyone else was having a good time.”

The thought that counts

When families enter the Beach House they are greeted by a table of goodies – from food and drink to activities for the kids. Justine said this little touch made a big difference.

“It might have just been a nice packet of biscuits and some chocolate but it’s the thought that goes into someone spending that money,” she said.

“It just felt like people cared and that they knew this was hard for us.”

Justine is trained as an Occupational Therapist and her husband, Clarke, is an Engineer. The two designed an extension of their home together to fit Xander’s complex needs but when walking into the Beach House they said that, although they’re extremely proud of their extension, they wished they had seen this before starting.

“It’s an Occupational Therapist’s paradise!” Justine said.

“I tried really, really hard and I couldn’t think of anything that you would need that was missing. It was really great.

“All families have different challenges, but that house caters for it all. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, I feel like the house meets the standard.”

Petrick family enjoyin lunch at the Beach House.

Petrick family enjoying lunch at the Beach House.

Lifted spirits

After this trip, the family are feeling so much more hopeful about holidaying together into the future.

“Now we’re like, no, we could do this!” Justine said.

“My husband has been taking the other two kids camping, but it’ll be nice to be able to all do it together again.

“It’s definitely restored our positive attitude about being able to get out and about a bit more with Xander again.”

The Petrick family taking a trip on the Steam Ranger during their stay at the Beach House.

The Petrick family taking a trip on the Steam Ranger during their stay at the Beach House.

Justine is incredibly grateful to everyone who made the trip a reality.

“A huge thank you to anyone that’s ever contributed to the Beach House in the past or ongoing. It’s such a gift for a family who has its challenges,” she said.

“So, thanks to everyone that supports it and supports the Foundation.”

For more information on the ‘Laklinyeri’ Beach House, click here. To support families like the Petricks, click here.

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