04 October 2016

Family Support Services underpin hospice care

A local hospice charity is using a national awareness week to draw attention to theFamily Support Service help it provides to patients and the families of people affected by cancer and other life-limiting illness.  Rennie Grove Hospice Care is launching a campaign during Hospice Care Week (3 to 9 October) to expand its already extensive Family Support Services and meet growing demand.

Family Support Services Lead, Cathy Sosoli, explained: “Rennie Grove’s aim is to give patients the choice to live a good quality life whilst at home for as long as possible and to that end our specialist nurses provide a holistic approach to managing symptoms in patients’ homes and at Grove House.  Underpinning that specialist care is the ongoing support offered to the patient, their primary carer and other family members.  Supporting families gives patients the choice to stay at home and to die at home if that is their wish.”

This is an exciting time for the Family Support Services team as they have expanded to include the charity’s voluntary Complementary Therapists, whose aims and ethos echoes that of the Family Support team.  Cathy has just four staff members helping her to run Rennie Grove’s Family Support Services, and 72 dedicated volunteers.  Between them they offer services ranging from supportive listening and counselling in the client’s home, support over the telephone and support groups. There is also a specialised children’s service offering one-to-one support, group work and advice for parents and teachers.  Complementary therapy includes massage, reflexology, reiki and aromatherapy, all of which are offered to patients (both adults and children) and their carers at no cost.  Skilled therapists work on a voluntary basis to treat family members and patients in their own home as well as at Grove House.

“Quite frankly, without these volunteers, there would be no Family Support,” said Cathy. “At any one time our volunteers are each supporting two to five patients and family members and there is no way we could afford to pay staff to fulfil all listening, counselling and bereavement support needs, nor could we fund all the complementary therapy treatments that help reduce anxiety, stress and provide physical relief as well as relaxation for patients and cares alike.”

Rennie Grove’s Family Support team is facing an influx of calls for help due to increasing referrals and evolving needs.  “As patients live longer, often with multiple conditions and complex needs, they and their family need support for longer too,” said Cathy. 

Increasingly, Rennie Grove’s Family Support team is called upon to help patients as well as their family members.  “More effective drugs are slowing down the disease progression in many cases,” explained Cathy. “A patient might still be ‘terminally ill’ but their prognosis might be years when previously it could have been just months.  As a result, the nature of our support is evolving to ensure that patients and their families get the help they need, when they need it.”

As well as supporting patients and their family during the illness, Rennie Grove’s Family Support Services are available for family members following bereavement. “Some people come to us immediately, but others might ask for help years later,” said Cathy. “It’s our job to make sure we meet their needs whenever they arise.”

In order to keep meeting the growing demand for its service, Rennie Grove is launching a recruitment campaign for three volunteer roles.  “We’re looking for listeners,” said Cathy, “empathic and caring people who are willing to learn active and supportive listening skills for adult and children’s support and who are willing to give this support in people’s own homes. We also need more counsellors and are seeking people with a Level 4 Counselling qualification and membership of a governing body such as BACP.  Our counsellors need to have a passion for supporting patients, carers and family members at home during illness as well as helping the primary carer and family members in bereavement.   We are also seeking trained therapists to offer complementary therapy treatments in people’s homes as well as at Grove House.”

If you meet the above criteria, have time to give, are flexible and able to travel, then please get in touch at volunteer@renniegrove.org or 01442 890222.