Support to Workers helping Families of Children with Terminal Illnesses

Project location: United Kingdom
Project start date: September 2002 - Project end date: September 2005
Project number: 2002-15
Beneficiary: Rainbow Trust


 (above) Emma Bunton was a member of the Spice Girls

The Nando Peretti Foundation has awarded a grant to Rainbow Trust Children's Charity in order to pay the salary for three years to a new family support worker to care for families living in South-West Essex, North London and the Thames Estuary. Rainbow Trust Children's Charity was established to support families who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. Ms Debbie Davies has been employed as the new family support worker and she has undergone an intensive induction program which included a period of "shadowing" the daily work of another family support worker. She has also embarked on a 6-month play therapy training course. Ms Davies now has her own caseload and is currently caring for 17 families of whom one family is bereaved. The caseload includes many ethnic minority families from the West Indies, Lebanon and Kosovo who have a child with a life threatening or terminal illness. The support given to families varies according to the condition of the child and the individual needs of every family member. The practical support includes helping with the transport for hospital appointments particularly to London's Great Ormond Street and The Royal Marsden hospitals, school runs, caring for the healthy siblings, shopping, and providing a listening ear for the parents, sick child and the healthy siblings during times of crisis. Many of the children being cared for are in the final stages of illness and feedback from families has shown how invaluable the support by Ms Davies has been.
Ms. Davies is managed by Essex's family support coordinator on a daily basis with overall management by the Care Services Manager - South. As Rainbow Trust recognises the role of a family support worker can be emotionally straining and stressful, Ms. Davies receives fortnightly supervision with the family support coordinator, attends weekly feedback meetings with the rest of the family support team and has monthly supervision sessions with an external counsellor to share her experiences and feelings in a safe and structured way.

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