As many of our supporters aren’t too sure what our Family Support workers actually do for the families we support, we asked one of our FSW’s to give a quick run down on a couple of her current cases.
I thought I would give you a snapshot of the families I am supporting; it is very varied and will give you an insight in to what I do.
George has had a brain tumour and I have been working with him since he was 3 months old. He has not finished his treatment and mum and dad are finding it difficult to cope with his rehabilitation as he doesn’t walk or talk. Dad works full time and mum does a lot of the care herself. George is now 3 years old and the family have a one year old baby Fred, and it is difficult because the baby can do more than George can do and I have got involved in taking mum to an Early Years Centre and helping her get to know other families. It is hard as mum is slightly agoraphobic, I‘m uncertain whether she was before George’s problems or this is something that has come on following George’s diagnosis.
I take mum, George and Fred to the centre but I am gradually weaning myself away from mum to empower her to be more proactive with the other families as she is very nervous but I am still there on the outskirts though gradually backing away. If it wasn’t for me she wouldn’t get on a bus and take George and Fred by herself. So whilst mum and George integrate with the other families I get time to spend with Fred.
George’s next scan at GOSH is due in March and unfortunately the type of brain tumour he had is likely to come back, so I will be supporting the family during this time.
I phone mum and try to see the family at least once a week and support them at all their hospital appointments.
I have another family you may be interested in, there’s mum, dad, brother Colin and Ann who has cancer of the eyes. I have been working with them now for the past year. Mum and dad don’t ask for much really, what they need and what works for them is I go in and support the family. I leave my house very early in the morning (4.30 am) to get to the house at 6 am so mum and dad can take Ann to London for her treatment. If dad can’t take the time off work, I would then drive her up to London, but on the whole I am mainly supporting Colin the healthy brother and as I walk in mum and dad have the car engine running and they are off.
I then stay in the house and it enables mum and dad to go with Ann for her treatment and not have to worry, it also means Colin can stay in bed and bit longer. I wake him up, get him washed and dressed and make him breakfast and take him to school. Mum is really, really adamant that Colin’s education is not affected by Ann and her illness and nor is Colin as a person. Colin is a very confident little boy and this is what works for this family.
I normally call mum after I have dropped Colin at school and leave a message to let her know everything is alright.
I find it so interesting that I have so many different families the only link between them all is they have a poorly child.
So everybody deals with it differently so I bend and flex with them whatever way they want, which keeps me on my toes and is never boring.
Then there’s Jenny, I may have told you about this family before. She had a brain tumour then relapsed and had radiotherapy. Mum is very concerned and upset as she is having lots of problems at school, she isn’t coping with the work and she should be in year one but has gone back down to reception class where her younger sister is and unfortunately she is still struggling with the work .
I was and checked with mum when her next scan was due as I fear maybe something was back, mum contacted the hospital and it appears that she may be struggling due to the radiotherapy she has had. Radiotherapy whilst great at killing the cancer unfortunately also can affect other cells and being unable to cope with school work may be a result of that.
Mum is very concerned as she is having trouble dressing herself; she has to tell her when to drink and eat so there is something going on. Dad has gone back to work but mum is finding it really hard, she said to me she felt like everybody had pulled out, which is what happens at the end of a treatment, except for Rainbow, and she is left to get on with it.
For now we just hope that Jenny picks up.