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P-133 “I’m not alone”: the importance of residential trips for brothers and sisters
  1. Paige Fontana,
  2. Lavinia Jarrett and
  3. Jane O’Neill
  1. Demelza, Hospice Care for Children, Sittingbourne, UK


Background You may have special memories from a school trip, whether a first stay away or trying something new. These opportunities are crucial for siblings living with a young person with a serious or life-limiting condition. For the past two years, we have organised a three-day residential for siblings transitioning to secondary school. The need greatened after the pandemic with lockdown affecting the mental health of those living with siblings with disabilities, who have missed out on important opportunities to meet others.

Aims The focus was to provide a fun space, create new friendships, meet others in similar situations and build resilience. Additionally, siblings would learn more about the wider services the children’s hospice provides.

Methods An appropriate adventure park was sought, criteria was set, challenges assessed, and skillsets of staff and volunteers, cross-departmentally, were identified to best support siblings who often had additional needs. Evaluation of the work was significant and impacted on subsequent trips.

Results Children’s self-esteem and confidence increased, improving their emotional well-being whilst being in a digitally-free environment. They built lasting relationships and continue to connect within the sibling support programme. Meanwhile, families were able to have a different focus including self-care and dedicated time with their other children. Those with socioeconomic disadvantages could participate through practical support offered. Staff and volunteers experienced morale boosts after a period of reduced face-to-face trips.

Conclusion Feedback demonstrated that the trip allowed siblings to gain independence and provided space to explore emotions with new friends who they otherwise may not have met. The residential will be repeated for a new cohort with venue improvements and activity adjustments to further develop sibling support.

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