We’re here for you and those important to you

October 2021

Family Support

Did you know that as well as caring for patients, Prospect Hospice also supports families and loved ones?

To link with Hospice Care Week (October 4-8), palliative care social worker David Haigh (pictured) talks about the work of the hospice’s family support team in caring for patients and the people who are important to them throughout their journey with the hospice.


Being diagnosed with a terminal illness can be devastating news for both the patient as well as their loved ones. The impact on family members can be immense and, together, they will be going through a myriad of emotions with a variety of questions regarding what is happening to them.

There are practical issues to consider, such as will you be able to pay your mortgage? Can you claim welfare benefits so you and your family can cope financially?

If you’ve not made a will or have a power of attorney in place, where do you start?

Alongside the practicalities, emotionally, how do you process and adapt to the changing circumstances of your life?

At Prospect Hospice we offer practical and emotional support to patients and their families or people who are important to them (this can be friends or neighbours because some people live alone and do not have any family support). Many family members are also the patient’s carer. Each patient is different and the support we offer is tailored to their and their family’s circumstances.

We work very hard to build honest relationships with people and our focus is to work in partnership with them at whatever point they are at.

The people who work in the family support team have a lot of experience both professionally and personally. We’ve all suffered bereavements so can understand and empathise with what patients and their loved ones are going through, as well as the experienced gained through our daily work and previous experience.

We will assess what a patient’s needs are and form a plan with them regarding our input and what the nature of support may be like. As well as welfare advice, we can signpost people to other agencies to access specialist support where appropriate, such as children’s bereavement group work through Tree House in Wiltshire.

We also facilitate conversations with patients and their families and friends to enable them to have the time and space to talk about their concerns and help them find ways of coping.

Often, people find it hard to talk openly about dying but once they can they feel a huge weight has been lifted off them. For example, the husband of a woman who was terminally ill didn’t know how to tell his children their mother was dying.

We reassured and encouraged him that he could do it and gave him suggestions of how to open the conversation with them and he was proud he was able to do it. Ongoing support was offered to the children following this to work through any questions or any issues they may have had regarding what they had been told.

For carers, being able to have some respite is beneficial for their wellbeing and we hold walk for wellness sessions at Lydiard Park, Swindon. This gives them an opportunity to get out in the fresh air and reflect on the importance of making time for themselves as well as being able to spend time with people who may be going through similar experiences to themselves. We also run carers’ support groups at Prospect Hospice.

Our support carries on after patients die. We offer bereavement support to patients’ loved ones to help with their loss and grief.

All of our services are provided free of charge to those we support thanks to the generous donations the hospice receives from the public.

As a team we are proud to support patients and their families throughout their journey.

I love my role of social worker. I really enjoy listening to people’s stories, talking about living and their loves, passions and interests. I feel very privileged to be allowed to enter people’s situations at such a potentially challenging time in their lives.


David Haigh has been a palliative care social worker in the family support team at Prospect Hospice for nearly two years. He has been a social worker for over 20 years working within a variety of care settings.

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