A Day to Themselves

Wed 6th Jul 2016

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Caring for your child when they are seriously ill can be a 24hrs a day, 7 days a week responsibility and because of the demands placed upon family members to maintain strict care routines it can be difficult for parents to give other children in the family their full attention.

This is a completely understandable and necessary situation but it can put great strain on both parents and siblings. As the care of a very poorly brother or sister must take precedence over everything else in normal daily life siblings necessarily miss out on the kind of fun and attention that their class mates and friends take for granted.

This can cause feelings of guilt and regret for parents and repetitive disappointment and isolation for other children in the family. Because there are thankfully small numbers of children and young adults suffering from a life limiting illness their siblings can feel like they are very isolated and alone.

Butterwick House Hospice is very aware of the pressures put upon the families who come to the Hospice for support and because the Hospice looks to support all elements of family life we set up a Sibling Support Group almost 10 years ago.

The group meets quarterly and siblings are invited to come to the Hospice to enjoy a day to themselves where they can have lots of fun, feel safe and supported and meet other children and young adults like them who have a seriously ill brother or sister.

Needless to say the group has been a very welcome addition to the services freely provided to local families.

The Siblings get to choose what they would like to do together on their special day. In the last few months they have been to the Forbidden Corner for a day full of fun, Hollywood Bowl for some friendly competition and the Sunderland Empire to watch Shrek.

They love being together and give each other lots of support, both while they are on their special day out and in between days when they contact each other as friends. They all enjoy having a day to themselves with the Hospice team when they don’t feel the need to consider anything other than having a good time.

The Hospice care team run the Sibling Support Group and go with the youngsters on their trips out. They also offer one to one support at the Hospice if a young person just needs someone they can talk to confidentially outside their family.

Anne is a Health Care Assistant at Butterwick House and a founder member of the Sibling Support Team. She said:

“Most of the siblings like to be involved with the Hospice where their brother or sister receives care. They really benefit from the opportunity to make friends with other children like themselves and often keep in touch with each other outside the group.

“The Care Team love being able to make the siblings feel like kings and queens for the day and helping them to relax, feel safe and supported and feel less stressed.”

Families also appreciate the time the care team take to provide this support mechanism for the younger members of the family.

Outings are planned once a quarter and are generally for one day away. A full activity weekend was organised two years ago when the Sibling Support Team took the children to an outward bound centre. The two day visit was a massive hit with the youngsters and the care team alike.

Everyone would love to do this kind of outing more often but funding this kind of outing is difficult. If you would like more information about the Siblings Support Group please contact Butterwick House on 01642 607748.

Alternatively, if you would like to raise funds to enable more activities to take place for the Siblings Support Group, please contact the fundraising office on 01642 628930 or make a donation via this page on our website