Centre cares for children with special needs

* Rozanne Bihl, founder of Aiden Rose centre, a facility for

A special needs day care centre recently moved from Retreat to 28 Field Road, in Lotus River and they have opened their doors to accommodate children with disabilities as well as able bodied children.

The Aiden Rose centre, a non-profit organisation, which was established in July 2012, is a facility for special needs children who cannot be placed in a normal facility because they require specialist stoma care, have spina bifida or because they are fed through feeding tubes.

The centre is run by Rozanne Bihl, a registered nurse. She is assisted by Francis Petersen who has a child with spina bifida and hydrocepha-
lus.

Ms Bihl completed her studies at the then Nico Malan Nursing College in 1995 and then started working at Red Cross Memorial Children’s Hospital in the surgical ward. She worked at the hospital for 18 years. In September 2002 she started a job in the specialist clinic for disabled children at Red Cross hospital. To help her understand how to care for these children, she went on a six months Stomal Therapy course. The stomal therapist is responsible for helping patients adjust to living with either a permanent or temporary stoma such as a colostomy, ileostomy or urostomy.

According to Wikipedia, a stoma is an artificial opening made into a hollow organ, especially one on the surface of the body leading to the gut or trachea.

To further her understanding of children’s health, Ms Bihl did a two-year part-time course in paediatrics, at the University of Cape Town, which she completed in 2004.

Her passion to help disabled children grew. “I realised that a special needs centre in the community was necessary because very few facilities accept special needs kids under the age of five years old,” she said.

But before she took the bold step of starting her own facility, she left Red Cross in 2009 to work at a home for seniors, in Pinelands. But in 2012 her dream was realised and she opened her own centre – initially at her own home in Retreat because rental costs were too high. In July last year, however, the centre was moved to a property in Lotus River, which was secured through the Department of Social Development.

Ms Bihl said they currently accommodate seven children from six months to 12 years old, who come from Retreat, Lavender
Hill, Mitchell’s Plain. “The special needs include children who are developmentally delayed, who have cerebal palsy – a physical disability that affects movement and posture – and who have spina bifida – a birth defect where there is incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord.

“We also have an occupational therapist and a special needs teacher onboard.”

And because many parents keep their children at home because there are no facilities nearby, Ms Bihl said the Aiden Rose centre will also be offering transport to the children.

For more information call 082 567 6571.