Safe at last

St Dominic’s Centre, Mayfield, Year 8 student Jacqueline Loss requires unique needs for her schooling. She had leukaemia when she was two years old, which led to other health issues, including moderate cognitive disability and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, which is a complex, rare, and severe childhood-onset epilepsy.

Jaci contends with multiple seizures daily and needs a safe environment around her. If, for example, she is on a flight of stairs and has a seizure, that would likely result in serious injury.

Jaci’s mum, Heather Loss, heard about St Dominic’s from a friend who said “I’ve never seen anything like it”.

As soon as Mrs Loss entered St Dominic’s, she looked around and immediately felt relief. “I walked into this beautiful place with all the carpet and all the one level and couldn't find many steps anywhere and straight away I felt safe,” she said.

Mrs Loss is a teacher in the public school system and shared what led her to transition her daughter from mainstream schooling to St Dominic’s.

“It got to Year 6, and I knew she needed a specialist unit,” Mrs Loss said. “So, we filled in all the forms and did all the paperwork and everything for the public schools, and they were trying to decide where she would go.

“Special needs children, I believe, need a longer transition. But it was in the fourth term Year 6, and they couldn't tell us where she was going. She was watching all her peers go off to orientation days and not knowing when she's going, and I said,

‘it’s not good enough’.

“It was frustrating for me, as I believed in the system that I've worked in for 25 years, and yet I couldn't get people to listen.”

Mrs Loss talked with St Dominic’s staff and she felt they understood what Jaci faced every day. She was impressed with the level of care and communication, and that continues. “Here, they listen and have opened up their hearts, and you know they'll do the best they can,” Mrs Loss said.

Jaci joined St Dominic’s Year 7 in 2017, and Mrs Loss said it was the right choice, “really the right fit”.

If Jaci has a seizure at home, Mrs Loss emails Jaci’s teacher, Katie Philpott. As the school is quite small, it can provide individualised care, and put specific plans in place depending on the student’s experience that day.

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Brooke Robinson Image
Brooke Robinson

Brooke is Content Officer for the Communications Team in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle