Support may be needed throughout the course of a life-limiting illness.
There are key times when particular support may be required: diagnosis, beginning and end of treatment, recurrence, terminal phase, at time of death and following bereavement.
The Family Support team ensures that care is given not only to patients but also to those who care for them. The physical, emotional and psychological needs of carers can often be overlooked as carers regard the needs of their loved one as paramount, being reluctant to consider their own needs.
Who is a carer?
Carers can be anyone. Carers are wives, husbands, partners, grandparents, sons, daughters, friends or neighbours. You might not think of yourself as a carer, you might consider yourself as just looking after someone close to you; this means you are a carer.
At Willowbrook all carers and family members of patients can access Family Support. We take seriously trying to support those who support the patient. We make sure that carers receive care that meets their individual needs, whether this is spiritual, emotional and psychological or practical support. Where those needs cannot be met within the Hospice, we will signpost you or make a referral to other agencies if required.
Family support is provided by all the Clinical Support team. The Lead Chaplain and the Senior Social Worker work closely with the Family Support Therapist to deliver appropriate care. If spiritual or religious care is needed then the Chaplaincy team can provide a listening ear and guidance. If practical worries need addressing, the Social Worker will assess what is required and help put things in place.
One to one support is provided by the Family Support Therapist where a confidential listening ear is offered and a safe space in which to talk about what is happening to you. Carers may have many difficult decisions and adjustments to make throughout the course of their loved one’s illness. Advice may be given on caring for yourself without feeling selfish or guilty about it. This will then help you to keep on caring.
Support will normally be offered for six individual sessions, each lasting an hour. Sessions take place at the Hospice and at The Living Well. Telephone support is also available if required.
Family Support exists to support the whole family of a patient. This includes children and young people. We will work with parents and carers to help them develop skills to meet their own children’s needs; thus we will aim to support children through their parents.
Looking after yourself
As a carer you realise how important it is to care for yourself in order to be able to care for the person who is unwell. Family Support is available to anyone whose relative is known to Willowbrook Hospice, whether that is through the In Patient Unit, Well Being Services or the Out Patient Clinics. This support can begin right from the first visit to the hospice and can continue after a loved one dies.