Jaimie shares a week in her life as a Family Support Worker

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Jaimie shares a week in her life as a Family Support Worker in the North East Team.


I started the day by contacting the families on my case load to see how everyone was and to arrange support for the forth coming week. With families having so much going on in their lives and juggling appointments with ‘normal’ family life thrown in – this can sometimes prove to be quite a task!

Once I had confirmed everyone’s support, I opened my computer to check my emails, filled in my previous weeks timesheet and checked that there are no outstanding actions that needed to be done that day!

After this, I made my way to the Great North Children’s hospital to support a family who have a child receiving a Bone Marrow Transplant for an immune deficiency. This family is not from our area and the Mother is here alone. Having a sick child is worrying enough, but to be away from any friends, family or any usual support network can be very daunting. That’s where I come in! I support this family by supporting the sick child in hospital while his mother goes off the ward for some respite. On this occasion I took some stained glass paints to make while there and the child loved it as we ended up with very messy colourful fingers! When her mother returned back from her time away she told me she had been for a walk around the hospital and felt better in herself for getting some fresh air and felt mentally stronger as she found being inside the hospital ward 24/7 can be very lonely with her thoughts.

When I got home I updated my case manager notes and checked my emails once again – I had a new notification that I needed my food hygiene updated so I logged on to our online training to complete this before ending my day.


This morning started with an online TAF meeting for a little girl on my caseload. This little girl is recovering from a very rare form of cancer and after many operations and long hospital stays, she is raring to get back into school and her Mother also to have extra respite. This little girl has a colostomy due to some of her operations and the school is struggling to understand how they can support her while at school. Again, this is where I came in – I offered to go in with the little girl for the first few sessions and a plan was put into place much to her mothers joy!

After the meeting I travelled to a family home to help with them with their shopping. This family is not from this country and have no transport other than using public transport (which is not appropriate since their child is neutropenic and she is also heavily pregnant) I collected the family from their home and we went to a local shopping centre- I stayed inside the car with the sick child while his mother done their weekly food shop. We sang lots of songs and read the books I had taken with me while we waited – we also watched the traffic go by and spot the lorries and vans which is this little boys favourite thing to do. When his mother was finished – I drove them home and helped unload the shopping. The Mother was so thankful to me, even though it was only transport to a shop for me…to her it meant she could feed her family that week without struggling to get to the shops with a sick child and being heavily pregnant!

Once I finished my visit, I went to collect another child from school as their parents were at a hospital appointment with her brother who has a genetic disease. She was very happy to see me and we decided to go to soft play. We are very lucky here in the North East to have very kind venues which allow us in for free admission – this helps with finances also for the families as having a sick child always has unforeseen expenses that no one accounts for (parking, petrol, hospital food etc) At soft play, she insisted that I went on with her – so off my shoes came and I was ordered where to go….until she found a friend and I was told I could sit down. This little girl in particular has spent a lot of her childhood in hospital due to her brother’s condition, so an afternoon at soft play is more than welcome at any time for her just to be a child! When soft play was finished, I drove her back to the family home before driving home myself.


Wednesday mornings are when we have our team meetings, so today I drove into Sunderland to our office there and met up with the rest of my lovely colleagues and line manager.

Our team meetings give us a chance receive updates from the organisation, new policies and procedures, general information sharing, any important information and also a chance to share new ideas or activities/outings with each other (and also a great chance for a cuppa and a catch up!)

Whilst in the office, its always a great chance to grab any play activities , books or games that we may find useful for our up coming visits with the children, so I used this time to grab some jigsaws and books for my following visits in the week.

My next visit was a joint visit with another Family support worker in my team. The reason for this is that the one of the children in the family suffers from fits – therefore we ensure we can have someone to stay with the child at all times in case of emergency if need be. The family that we were supporting today recently lost a child to a very rare disease and devastatingly - their youngest child also has this disease. As you can imagine, the family is heartbroken but also want life to carry on as normal as can be for the other children. So, myself and my colleague collected the youngest child from school while the parents took the time to spend time with the oldest sibling. Today – we brought some baking ingredients and we made cupcakes! I definitely think us Family support workers got the hard job of mixing while the child we were supporting licked the spoon and ate the cakes! (although she did kindly offer share!)

After this visit – I travelled home and completed my case notes and ensured there was no outstanding admin tasks to be done.


Today I headed straight for the Great North Children’s Hospital as I run a Parent Support group on ward 3 (Bone Marrow transplant ward) every week. I take along with me some fresh milk, coffee, tea, wrapped biscuits and some juice for those who don’t like hot beverages. I also set up the room so it is calm and welcoming for the parents. This week I had the sound of the ocean playing and I also had some breathing technique cards that I scattered on the table and bench – I mix these activities up each week to provide different stress techniques to those who attend if they like. Once the room is set – I make my way around the ward to remind parents/grandparents/carers that I am there as some families may be new to the ward or just simply forget I am there! Today turned out to be very emotional as a mother came in to the room for a coffee and burst into tears – this was a new family on the ward who was out of area and she had to leave her other children back at home to be cared by family members – every thing seemed very daunting and she told me she had not slept since coming to Newcastle with anxiety and worry. I gave her time to chat and express how she was feeling over a coffee and biscuit and by the time she left she told me she felt much better that she had someone to talk to. I could not take any of her worry away or change the circumstances, but I was there to listen and sometimes it can make a huge difference. I had 1 other attendee today which was a father from our caseload and he had great news – they were now on purple isolation which meant they could go outdoors for walks – so that was his plan for today!

After my parent group I went over to PICU where one of the children on my caseload had unfortunately been moved to. He was born with a genetic syndrome which also affects his lungs and brain – meaning his future is unsure. When I entered the room, both parents were there and very upset. They talked to me about how fast it all happened and they were shocked – however today they received good news that he was improving and medication and oxygen would be reduced. This child is a twin, who was also there in the room – I had came to take him out today so that the parents could have time together with the sick child. He asked me to take him to the park and that is exactly what we done! The weather wasn’t too bad - sun was shining! I took him to the park near the hospital and it is very big with a pond, swans, ducks and a play area with plenty room to run around….and that’s what he did! He told me to watch him running up and down the hills (I was exhausted just watching him!) and then we went to see the ducks – not sure if he was impressed at first but after he was telling everyone in the park that they were his best friend! On our way back to the hospital he told me he didn’t like going back and it made him sad to see his brother asleep.

On my next visit I collected a sibling from school – this (not so little) girl has been on my caseload for some time now – her brother was born with an undiagnosed condition which means a crazy amount of hospital visits and stays. He also requires oxygen 24/7 meaning he has to be supervised for just that! She is the most loving and caring sibling to him and always wants to care for him – but her mother realises she is growing and is important she has time for herself. So when I collected her today, she requested we went to the metro centre for some shopping! I had some pizza hut vouchers that were bought from work so I took her there first as she was hungry after her day at school. Over pizza she talked to me about her fears over what would happen if her brother died, she said she thinks of things all the time but doesn’t want to burden her mother with more worry so she feels its safe to chat to me about it. After our pizza and chat – we went shopping where we obviously ended up in Primark where she bought lots of cosmetics (not that she needs them) but teenagers eh!? Ha Once finished, I drove her home and headed home myself.


This morning I had a request from a recently bereaved family about a memorial bench and if I could apply for funding for this which I absolutely could do so set away applying to a wonderful organisation called Tylers friends who help familied fund for headstones, benches or other memorial things. I successfully applied and the I received an email straight back saying the bench would be put on order for the family. I called the Mother to inform her it was successful and she cried saying she could never have afforded this herself. (they are very expensive!)

Next, I drove to the Great North Children’s hospital where I met 2 of our wonderful volunteers Jasmine and Martin! They are both helping to run the drop in for ward 14 (oncology children’s day clinic). The drop in allows children to have some play time and the parents to have a rest as they can be very long days on the ward while the children receive treatment and have tests carried out. The favourite for the drop in is always play doh and Martin also has so much fun with the – the children love playing tricks on him and always favour me and Jasmine as we are ‘princesses’ (apparently) It was quite busy today and we had 5 children attend. While I was there, I spoke to a parent who asked me for more information on Rainbow Trust – I gave her our leaflet and told her that I can refer her or she can self refer in her own time which she said she would like to do.

After the drop in, I made my way to the half way house (this is somewhere families stay until they are well enough to be discharged from the hospital care) to meet a family who is not from hospital. The Mother is here alone with the her baby and she is not very confident about going out and mixing as her English is also a bit broken. I sat with the Mother for a while and chatted to her about her life at home and her other children. She told me she couldn’t wait to get home to see her family but will also miss the staff and myself when she leaves. Once we chatted for a while, she went to the communal washing machine to do her laundry while I watched the baby – no complaints from me, I always feel so privileged to part of the families lives – and I love baby hugs!

Once my visit was over I drove home and as I am volunteer champion for the North East – I ensured that essential documents for recruitment were in place and there was no outstanding actions. I then completed my case notes for the week and made sure all my admin tasks were also complete!

All finished and set for the next week ahead of me – My weeks are always so different and my diary can change from one moment to the next……I absolutely love my job and I love just making a difference to the families lives that we work with!

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