Background Completing everyday tasks such as gardening, cleaning or painting may not be a focus for families who have a child with a life-limited or life-threatening condition. The hospice strategy (2016 – 2021) set out to provide much more supportive care in the child or young person’s own home. The outcome of this project was to place trained volunteers in families’ homes to support with everyday household tasks. A pilot project assessed participants’ perception, identified immediate and long-term impact and monitored activities undertaken.
Aims (1) To identify families’ needs and match with volunteer skills, within a limited region. (2) To examine processes and communicate learning and outcomes. (3) To identify improvements, ensuring sustainability and growth.
Methods Implement a volunteer recruitment programme and survey families on support required. Working cohesively with wider hospice teams, implementing a home assessment system with additional resource. Understand expectations and matching the right volunteer skills with the right family, within limited parameters. Collating feedback, reporting to Trustees and identifying future organisational opportunities including deliveries of seasonal gifts and memory boxes.
Results The pilot was a success and recognised as a crucial growing part of the children’s hospice service offer. The range of services developed included increased transport referrals, which ensures regular attendance and punctuality to appointments and removes challenges of comforting and supporting children whilst driving for families. Recognising some tasks were too large for volunteers to complete resulted in local Trades’ involvement.
Conclusion Impacted by the pandemic the service and support offered adapted, with improved responsive referral systems in place for families and professionals. “You are the first person to offer me support rather than just my child”, commented a parent following engagement with teams of multidisciplinary professionals involved in their child’s life. Increasing parent/carer wellbeing has positive effects on the child they are caring for.
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