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Family Support

Our Family Support Service provides psychological, emotional and spiritual support for patients throughout their illness and for families and carers facing or coming to terms with a bereavement.

When someone is diagnosed with a serious illness, everybody in the family is affected.

It takes time to adjust and find ways of managing the illness, treatment and stress this situation creates.

There are many questions and worries you may have including:

  • What and when to talk to the children about what’s going on?
  • Where can I get more information?
  • How can I make sure my family are supported now and in the future?
  • Who is there to help care for me if I’m not coping?
  • Where can I go to get help because I’m beginning to feel depressed and anxious?

Counselling and emotional support

A diagnosis of a life limited illness requires huge adjustment, and you are likely to experience a range of emotions, which you may find difficult to cope with. Sometimes it can help to talk to someone outside the family.

We provide counselling and help to patients and their families in a confidential environment. This support can be provided by booking planned appointments or on an informal basis, as and when needed.

All our counsellors are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and abide by its ethical framework.

If you would like to speak to someone from the Family Support Service, please do not hesitate to speak to a member of the Hospice Team or phone the Family Support Service during office hours on: 01462 679540.

Support for children

Serious illness can disrupt the lives of all of those people close to the patient. Children often struggle with difficult feelings and adults can find it difficult to know how to support them during this stressful time.

The Family Support Service can advise and support parents and schools to find the right words and give resources, such as books and information that will help children understand the situation, and make sense of their emotions.

The Hospice can be a strange and worrying environment for children to visit, but children are always welcome. There are Activity Bags and play areas around the building to give children something familiar to do while they are visiting.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help telephone 01462 679540 and ask to speak to a member of the Family Support Service.

Coping Well Course

The Coping Well Course is for patients. The programme is run over 6 weeks and covers topics aimed at helping you with the changes and challenges of living with a life limiting illness.

The sessions will provide you with an opportunity to receive and share information with others in a similar position while being in a supportive group led by a member of the Family Support Service.

Example of some of the topics we cover over the 6 weeks include:

  • Coping with anxiety, stress and low mood
  • Adapting to change and asking for help at the right time
  • Mindfulness and taking back control
  • Goal setting and thinking about your future care
  • Reflection and what next

There are limited places available so please contact Day Services if you would like more information or to book a place for the next available group. Day Services can be contacted on 01462 679540

Spiritual Care

Recognising and caring for the spiritual needs of patients and family members is as important as the physical and practical care that we offer.

The diagnosis of a serious illness can bring about all kinds of challenges and changes which can threaten our sense of the world and the beliefs we have.

Some people will have specific needs relating to their religion or culture. For others, spirituality describes the vital network of relationships which give value and meaning to their lives.

We have a Chaplain and a dedicated Spiritual Care Team who are able to visit patients and their families while they are at the Hospice and offer support and encouragement to help in strengthening people’s spiritual well- being.

  • You can speak to us in confidence
  • We can contact a representative of your own faith
  • We offer support for outpatients and those cared for by the Hospice at Home Service
  • We can provide advice, resources and support to staff and volunteers
  • The Quiet Room is a place for stillness and prayer – open to all
  • Services of reflection and worship are arranged according to need

Bereavement Support

When someone dies it can be hard to believe what has happened, people often feel shocked, numb or confused and need to keep going over what has happened.

Often people find it takes much more time than they imagined it would to begin to feel in control of their feelings.

If you need reassurance, information or some time to talk to a member of the Hospice team, please contact:

The Family Support Service during office hours or the 24 hour Telephone Advice Line on 01462 679540

Last year our Bereavement Team were able to support 737 people following a bereavement.

Bereavement Services include:

Bereavement Counselling

 Counselling provides non-judgemental, respectful support and can assist you to:

  • Gather information about the grieving process and what you may expect
  • Have an opportunity to talk about the person you are grieving for
  • Find your own resources and ways of coping
  • Understand your grief and the impact on your life

All the counselling we offer is with qualified counsellors or an experienced trainee counsellor.

All our counsellors are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and abide by its ethical framework.

Bereavement Support Groups

The Bereavement Support Group meet once each month at the Hospice. It’s a chance for people to talk and share their experiences, gather information and ideas for coping and support each other.

Some people come along to a group for a few months, others stay for longer.

For more information, phone the Hospice and ask to speak to the Bereavement Co-ordinator 01462 6790540

Coffee Mornings

The Coffee mornings are held once each month at the Hospice. Coffee mornings can provide regular companionship, support and the opportunity to meet other people who have been bereaved.

Time to Remember

We offer regular opportunities for bereaved friends and relatives to reflect upon and commemorate their loved ones.

We extend invitations to ‘Time to Remember’ around the first anniversary of the bereavement. These services are for people to come back to the Hospice to mark this very important and often emotive time. They take place on a monthly basis and last approximately half an hour. They are followed by refreshments. Children are welcome to attend.

Annual Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance

This service takes place in June on an annual basis in Letchworth Garden City and is open to all. It is an opportunity for remembering loved ones and giving thanks for the work of the Hospice. Children and young people are welcome and activities are provided for them. The Books of Remembrance are available for viewing after the service.

Helpful Resources to download and links to other services:

Books/Resources:

  • Age specific booklist available from Family Support Service
  • Winstons Wish – this organisation provides a variety of books and resources to help support families, professionals and anyone concerned about a child when someone is seriously ill or when someone important has died
  • Macmillan Cancer Support – this organisation provides publications to support children and young people
  • Child bereavement UK – Supports families facing bereavement

Websites:

  • www.riprap.org.uk – This website can help children and young people cope when a parent has cancer
  • www.hopeagain.org.uk - Aims to provide support to young people after the death of someone close to them

Spiritual Resources

There are a range of resources that we’ve highlighted below that may be of help to you.

Books:

Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life Paperback by Philip Simmons 2003

Philip Simmons was just thirty-five years old in 1993 when he learned that he had ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and was told he had less than five years to live. As a young husband and father, and at the start of a promising literary career, he suddenly had to learn the art of dying.

Close to the Bone: Life Threatening Illness and the Search for Meaning – April 3, 1998 by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Close to the Bone follows patients and their loved ones, focusing the individual on what is truly important. This process can be enhanced by prayer, meditation, participation in rituals, the sharing of stories, and a deeper and more honest level of communication with those we love and with ourselves.

A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last – April 14, 1998 by Stephen Levine

Steven Levine, teaches us how to live each moment, each hour, each day mindfully – as if it were all that was left. Levine provides us with a year-long program of intensely practical strategies and powerful guided meditations to help with this work.

Internet Resources:

Spiritual Well-being – article by Aston University

Spiritual and Life-Threatening Illness

Dying Matters

Dying Matters serves England and Wales and aims to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life.

Arranging a funeral