Families, Friends, Carers – FAQs

Everyone we meet and care for has very individual needs. We will talk to you (and your family, where appropriate) to find out how we can best support you and which services you may need access to — be that at the hospice or wherever home is for you.

People cope differently with illness, and our team at the hospice will work together with you to explore how we can best support you. You might find it helpful to talk to someone outside of your circle of family and friends in confidence. We have a variety of people who can help.

Our free emotional, social and spiritual support is available to you and to people who are important to you through our specially trained Family Support Team, which is made up of the companion team, a qualified counsellor, a chaplain and a team of trained volunteers. We will work to support you all through the varied and often confusing feelings you may experience.

We understand that you may need more or less help at any given time, and we respect this, so the level of support we offer will be tailored to meet your needs wherever possible.

If you would like help from the Family Support Team, please talk with your doctor, your Hospice Community Nurse Specialist or email us.

What does a counsellor do?
How many sessions of counselling do I get?
How often can I meet my counsellor?
What’s the point? You can’t change anything about my situation.
Is everything I say confidential?
What is the difference between spiritual and religious? I’m not religious or I have a specific religion.
What’s the difference between talking to a friend and talking to a Companion Volunteer?
How much does it cost to access Family Support Services?
What happens when I die?
What is the Chaplain’s role?
Can the chaplain help with preparing a funeral?
How do I get in touch with the chaplaincy team?
What does a counsellor do?

Listening carefully is the largest part of what all counsellors do. They help you decide what steps to take next. It may be helpful to prepare by writing down your reasons for seeking help to make describing your feelings to a Counsellor more comfortable.

You can talk about anything that is on your mind, however large or small you think your problem is. You might find yourself saying things you had not expected to say.  A counsellor will always help you explore your circumstances.

How many sessions of counselling do I get?

This is different for everybody and will discussed at regular intervals and mutually agreed. There is no set limit, rather we make an agreement with you to continue meeting with you while it helps you.

How often can I meet my counsellor?

Again this is agreed between yourself and your counsellor/ support volunteer, and will also depend on the availability of you both. Often sessions are weekly, to begin with, with the gap between sessions extending as time goes on; sometimes a fortnightly or monthly session might suit you better.

What’s the point? You can’t change anything about my situation.

It is frequently true that counselling, or emotional care appointments cannot change circumstances, but it can offer support at a very difficult time and help you to work through very difficult feelings – feelings which can, in time, change.

Is everything I say confidential?

As far as is possible the content of your sessions remains confidential. There are some limits to confidentiality – including if we feel you are at risk – and we will discuss this fully with you during the first session. We will ask you to sign a confidentiality agreement confirm you are happy to proceed.

What is the difference between spiritual and religious? I’m not religious or I have a specific religion.

Being spiritual is being human. It is that element of being us that asks questions about the meaning and purpose of our lives. Many people express their spirituality through their religion, and many others don’t. Our Chaplain and her team are tasked first and foremost with providing spiritual care and only when appropriate – religious care. We have a multi-faith team and can provide the required faith support.

What’s the difference between talking to a friend and talking to a Companion Volunteer?

Sometimes talking to a friend can be helpful. However, there are some disadvantages to using friends as your only confidants and support. Friends and family could feel a conflict of loyalty and find it hard to keep things confidential.

They may become upset themselves by what you are telling them and could become upset if you don’t accept their advice. Our training means we have formal support and a work structure which helps us to deal with upsetting and difficult situations; friends may begin to feel overburdened, especially if they have their own problems too.

How much does it cost to access Family Support Services?

There is no cost attached to this service. You are welcome to give a donation to the work of the hospice but there is no expectation that you do this.

What happens when I die?

This is a common question for a chaplain to be asked and I’m afraid there isn’t an answer. Different faiths look at this in different ways to help make sense of the ultimate mystery. Humanists believe that there is nothing beyond death. We have to accept that we do not know the answer but it’s helpful to think about the question is our search for meaning, purpose and hope.

What is the Chaplain’s role?

The hospice chaplain and team are there to support people with many different views of their spirituality. For some people, having a faith is key to who they are.

For others, religious faith is not part of their lives but they may wish to talk about spirituality and what it means for them.

The chaplaincy and spiritual care team are available for everyone to talk and think about difficult questions. We visit patients at home, in the Inpatient Unit, and support Day Hospice. We do not promote our own spiritual beliefs but help others explore personal beliefs that help them.

We are able to organise various ceremonies and rituals that may be helpful such as a Blessing of Marriage, a wedding, baptism or more specially to faith, Holy Communion or anointing with oil.

Our chaplaincy team is made up of people from various backgrounds in order to meet your needs more helpfully. We are also able to contact your own faith community leader if needed.

Can the chaplain help with preparing a funeral?

Yes, indeed we can and it’s really helpful to patients and families to get things in place as far as possible. The chaplaincy team is happy to have this conversation with you and record the details of your wishes. It’s a real comfort to families to be carrying out the wishes of the patient when the funeral takes place.

How do I get in touch with the chaplaincy team?

We can be contacted directly through the hospice reception or by speaking to your hospice community nurse or inpatient staff member. We can usually respond to a referral within a couple of days or sooner if needed.

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