Hand in hand with siblings
The concept of ‘whole family care’ is a key part of Children’s Hospice South West’s service. Siblings, in particular, often share a special bond and the loss of a brother or sister will have a lifelong impact.
CHSW operates a Sibling Service at each hospice, providing dedicated support and care to the brothers and sisters of life-limited children. The service was established in 2003 in recognition of their needs, and continues to provide much valued and dedicated care.
During family stays, the siblings can spend as much or as little time as needed with a devoted sibling team. They provide support and understanding and give the children a chance to step away from their home role which is often, in some capacity, a role as a carer.
A wide range of exciting activities for siblings is offered at each of the hospices, from making the most of the fantastic facilities, to going out on trips to the zoo, the beach, or even visits in the community such as fire stations or airports. These activities are a wonderful opportunity for friendships to be encouraged among the other siblings staying at the hospice; they find great support and benefit from relationships where there is mutual appreciation of similar situations.
A sibling worker’s role is far-reaching, supporting the children through end of life care and the loss of their brother or sister. As well as supporting and listening to the siblings, they also help and encourage them to write poems or readings to be read at the service and create treasure chests of memories.
Contact is maintained with the siblings during their brother or sister’s time at the hospice and after their death, for as long as they need. Staff keep in touch with brothers and sisters between visits through quarterly newsletters, emails, days out and residential activity weekends for teenage brothers and sisters.
“Sometimes the siblings feel they take second place and often find it difficult to discuss their feelings. The sibling service offers the opportunity for siblings to be themselves, to have fun and feel special” - Senior sibling worker, Adele Smyth-Richards
Our trained carers and youth workers provide:
Crafts in messy play, baking in the kitchen, and games in the gardens.
Out of the house activities
Everyday experiences from trips to the cinema, to visiting the local zoo.
Shared family experiences without the worry of 24 hour care - helping families build precious memories.
Residentials for teenagers, whose needs can be very different, ensuring they have access to vital support.
We provide a listening ear and on-going support in between stays.
Bereavement care is a very important part of the work at each of our hospices. Our Sibling Service provides specific support for bereaved children, working accordingly to the family needs. They make use of crafts to support the grieving process, for example, making memory boxes, items for the funeral, or to put in the coffin and can provide support for siblings at funerals. Follow-up support is then offered at home and contact is maintained through telephone calls, cards, emails and home visits. Special remembering visits for bereaved siblings also allow them to celebrate their brother or sister.
Our Sibling Service can have a wonderful impact on the children and young people we support. We can ensure that children and young people facing the most unimaginable challenges have access to expert support through the most difficult of times, and provide them with many happy memories to cherish long into the future.