How Weldmar’s Family Support Services team is caring for the carers
Meet Jo and Chloe, who have started virtual get togethers and a newsletter for the carers of patients
One of the key services provided at Weldmar Hospicecare is family support, and making sure the families and loved ones of patients are looked after during what can be one of life’s most difficult journeys.
Alongside bereavement support, counselling, and spiritual care teams, we have two social workers, Jo Jury and Chloe Hook, who provide a range of ongoing support to patients and families.
The husbands, wives, partners, and sons and daughters of our patients can also be their primary carers. Jo and Chloe have been holding monthly meetings on Zoom to provide them with a family support network, as well as emailing them a quarterly newsletter.
“These virtual meetings started because of Covid”, explains Jo, “which meant that we were unable to get out and see the people we are supporting, and we also recognised the isolation that many carers may feel due to shielding or self isolating with their loved one. It was a way of getting carers together and talking to one another.”
“The sessions are very much led by them. They can discuss their issues, worries, concerns, frustrations or fears. It’s always interesting to see what kind of topics come up.”
“We’ve also tried to keep it fairly light, and talk about literature and poetry. One carer actually went and bought a couple of books that were mentioned in a previous meeting, and has said they’ve got a lot out of them. It’s really nice to see people open up and say what’s going on with them, even though they’ve not met the others on the screen. I’m really pleased about that.”
“The ones that have come along have come back again, which makes me think we are on the right track with it! We are just there to facilitate their conversations, whatever they might be. One useful tool on Zoom is the ability to split off into a different ‘room’, perhaps if someone gets a little emotional, or if we want to have some breakout conversations.”
Everything except the cake!
Jo explains that they might even carry on with virtual meetings once restrictions are lifted. “Holding these sessions on Zoom has helped us reach people we might not have. There are people who live in more rural parts of the county who cannot drive, or those who feel they cannot leave their loved one to come to a face to face session. Nobody is put under pressure to speak, or put on the spot, we try to keep it friendly and informal. We still all have a cuppa on the call, but one thing we cannot provide is the cake!”
The newsletter to provide family support for carers is a more recent addition, and Jo and Chloe have just put together their second edition.
Chloe says it’s all about providing information and reassurance to carers. “We’ve recently had a number of questions about the Covid vaccine, where their loved one has been put into a priority group but maybe they haven’t. We’ve found the advice on that, so we’ve been able to share this in the newsletter.”
“Again, it’s a mix of anything that could help – mindfulness, meditation, and a few facts about the difference that they are making. Sometimes carers don’t realise how beneficial what they are doing actually is.”
“We have also included details of other carer support groups. It’s important to find a group that suits you, so there are suggestions of other places where you can go.”