Helping to make a short life a full life: The Children and Young People Team at Jersey Hospice Care

At Jersey Hospice Care our Children and Young People Team help to make short lives, full lives and offer a much-needed source of strength and support for families and people close to them through sometimes very challenging times.

From respite care, to emotional support, there is lots on offer. To help shed a light on what it means to support children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, we have sat down with the Team to dispel the myths and provide Islanders an insight into the current service available.

How it started

At Jersey Hospice Care our mission is to transform and deliver outstanding palliative care for all our community and in 2017, we extended our services to support children and young people on the Island. This started first with our emotional support services and then with outreach services that provide day respite support at home and at Hospice. This April (2021) we refurbished three respite rooms for those accessing our service. These are specifically designed to create a friendly, welcoming and accessible environment for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, to help them receive the care and support that they need.

What we’re doing

Respite care

“Our respite service allows parents to be parents and not carers, even if only for a short time.” – Dena Sheldon, Palliative Care Staff Nurse

The respite care we provide is flexible to the unique needs of every child or young person, their parent or carer. This care can be an opportunity for the child or young person to receive wellbeing support or symptom control, and offers the parent or carer some time to have for themselves whether that be to do the shopping, take a nap or spend quality time with a sibling. It can be provided at their home or onsite at Jersey Hospice Care.      

Charmaine Dwyer, one of our Palliative Care Staff Nurses tells us, “The provision of respite care focuses on finding different ways to enhance children and young people’s quality of life, ensuring their wishes and needs are met, promoting enjoyable experiences whilst managing symptoms as they arise, maintaining their comfort and dignity.”

Dena Sheldon shares, “My favourite part of my job as a Palliative Care Staff Nurse at Jersey Hospice Care is meeting the amazing families, children and young people we care for. The most important thing for me is being part of a team that helps to put smiles on children, young people and families faces, even though they are going through or facing the toughest of times.”

Respite room at Jersey Hospice Care

Respite room at Jersey Hospice Care

Respite room at Jersey Hospice Care

Emotional support and counselling

The team provides a range of emotional support to children and young people, their families, friends and people close to them. It is a confidential service that provides an opportunity to talk openly and be able to process thoughts and feelings.

Vicki Luce, the Children and Young People Emotional Support Counsellor tells us, “A usual day primarily consists of supporting clients on a one-to-one basis for counselling. These sessions can last up to 50 minutes and offer the child, young person, their family or someone close to them the space to talk through anything that is concerning them. We use a variety of activities during these sessions and find positive ways of supporting each child or person to talk about what is going on for them.”

Where we’re going

Our vision is to ultimately extend our services into a purpose-built facility adjacent to the existing buildings at Hospice. This would provide overnight accommodation and bespoke spaces for a range of day services offered by our team and other healthcare providers who support the same patients. We would want this to be a “home from home” for those under 18s who are living with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition in Jersey. We are looking to work collaboratively with other healthcare providers to ensure a joined-up approach to the care we offer to each child and are in the early stages of talking to them and to families about what this could look like.

In the meantime, we have recruited a new part time Staff Nurse, and are looking to recruit a Senior Nurse to lead the team and continue to work with those families who have already engaged with us, as well as new families who have recently been referred to us.

Our new Staff Nurse, Jo Le Cornu, joined the team at the beginning of June. Jo shares, “I am delighted to have recently joined the Children and Young People Team at hospice. It is wonderful to be part of the amazing team giving respite and support to children, young people and their families enhancing their lives and ensuring that their respite sessions are tailor-made to create positive experiences. Being involved in the development of the service and sharing the vision of a specialist facility in the future is so exciting. I feel passionate about this service and what the future holds.

The Team have identified that a key next step to providing excellent support is the creation of a Sensory Playroom based at Clarkson House, that can be used by individual children or family groups with care provided by our team. We are very grateful to a generous donation from a local supporter who has made a gift to fund the purchase of this equipment which would be moved into the new building in due course. We hope to be able to open this room towards the end of this year.

As we plan ahead for these projects, we are grateful to the community who supports us so generously each year – we couldn’t do what we do without you. Your support helps us to make a difference to the children and young people in our community whose time is short.

Sensory play