Story from the Heart – Caroline

WSBH Hospice Heart Element - Yellow

A testimonial about Family Support from a volunteer Counsellor at the Hospices.

Almost the entire Counselling team at Woking & Sam Beare Hospices is comprised of volunteers.  There are strict criteria; applicants must be fully qualified before they can practice and in return they will receive support and development that will aid them in providing a top quality counselling service, free-of-charge, to patients and their immediate family, both pre and post bereavement.

Caroline works across both hospices and specialises in Family Therapy. She has recently been awarded a grant, recognising her dedication:

“I volunteer across Woking & Sam Beare Hospices as a Counsellor. I also do home visits. I specialise in a branch of counselling called ‘Systemic’ Family Therapy which involves working with family groups who are bereaved or who are facing a bereavement, to enable them to deal with their situation together, as a family unit. This means that I work with family groups; for example partners, elderly couples, parents and their children.

I have always had an interest in the amazing work done to help people copy with life-limiting illness and one of the most rewarding elements of my role is when I am able to harness a family’s emotional strength, in order to help them deal with their situation together. I think it is crucial to be involved with a family in their journey towards the bereavement and this is where the largest part of my work is based, although I do some post-bereavement as well.

I really advocate home visits wherever possible as people who are undergoing treatments are so busy all the time; they might have a doctor’s appointment or the opticians or chemotherapy. For me, to pop into someone’s home gives them one less appointment that they have to think about travel arrangements for. Home visits also give me the chance to see what someone’s living environment is like, and that can also influence the work I do.

Counselling and family support is such an integral part of the hospice movement and it is something that I hope more people begin to recognise. There is something very special about the team here, everyone has that extra bit to give. We are all qualified professionals and the supervision and personal development they provide at the Hospices is top notch, allowing us to be the best Counsellors we can for our patients.

I have recently claimed a grant for the Hospices from the Volunteer Involvement Programme (VIP) operated by ExxonMobil, where my husband Andy works. I gave the money to the Counselling Team Leader to spend on training for the whole team. There isn’t a budget for training in the Counselling Department, we tend to have to pay for it ourselves. Although we are happy to do this as part of our professional development, it has been a wonderful gift to be able to give something back financially which will benefit everyone.

I am looking forward to the new hospice because the provision for the counselling team in general will be so much more than it is now. At the moment we are very lucky to have the spaces that we do: we have a house that we practice in right next to Woking Hospice and we have some dedicated rooms at Sam Beare. However, because the spaces were not purpose built and there are not very many of them, we do have occasional issues with bookings or getting complete privacy. The New Hospice has dedicated counselling rooms drawn into the plans and this is very exciting.”

There are many different roles available for potential volunteers, most do not require any prior experience or training. If you are interested, you are encouraged to contact the Volunteer Services Department to arrange an informal meeting in which you can discuss where your talents and skills would be best suited. Click here or call 01483 881750 to find out more.