Supporting the families through a difficult time
Caring for a child during treatment is hard on all the family. Finances are often a worry as parents will have to take time off work to support their child. Family relationships can suffer too, as the emotional pressure takes its toll and everyday life is turned upside down.
- On-Site Family Accommodation
- Social Work Service
- Financial Support through Grants
- Emotional Support for Parents
- Emotional Support for Brothers and Sisters
- Benefits Advice
- Family Support Workers
On-Site Family Accommodation
Due to the large catchment area across Wales of the Children’s Oncology Unit families often have to make round trips of over 200 miles to receive treatment.
As part of its relocation to the Children’s Hospital of Wales, LATCH fundraised £800,000 to build an extra floor of the hospital to house a family accommodation unit. This unit consists of eight hotel-standard bedrooms (six of which are ensuite) with televisions as well as kitchen facilities, a laundry room, a dining room and lounge so families can make themselves at home. The accommodation is offered to families free of charge and helps keep families together during their child’s stay in hospital.
LATCH continues to maintain these facilities and upgrades the rooms and equipment on a regular basis. In 2013, LATCH launched its Home from Home project to upgrade the accommodation unit in partnership with Redrow Homes.
LATCH also issues free car parking permits to families staying over and passes to use the hospital sports centre.
Social Work Service
LATCH provides the funding for a dedicated team of three social workers who specialise in the issues facing the families of children receiving treatment for cancer and leukaemia. The LATCH Social Work Team is there to provide practical, emotional and financial support in a confidential environment.
Although based within the Children’s Hospital for Wales, the LATCH Social Worker Team visit families at home across the southern half of Wales – from Chepstow to Aberystwyth. On average the team will have 120 plus families to look after at any given time.
Though family and friends are often keen to help, the impartial advice of an experienced professional is often beneficial.
Financial Support through Grants
The LATCH Social Worker Team can assist families in applying for a range of LATCH grants designed to ease the financial burden. LATCH grants cover a range of areas:
- An initial financial support grant to cover the families’ immediate needs
- Travel costs to cover trips to and from hospital
- Subsistence grants to help with day to day living expenses
- General household expenses to cover utility bills and the purchase of specialised equipment for the home
- Childcare costs to help look after brother and sisters whilst the parents are in hospital
- Holiday Grants to give the families a well deserved break
Information is also given on grants available from other organisations such as respite care.
Emotional Support for Parents
The LATCH Social Worker Team is experienced in helping parents to cope with the shock of diagnosis and the long term turmoil of treatment. Emotions can range from anger, despair, guilt and helplessness.
They run various support groups for the parents as well as one to one sessions. They also organise treats and get-togethers for the parents such as pamper days for the mums and golf days for the dads. Being with people in a similar situation often helps and just doing something different can act as a much needed tonic.
“The parents’ group is excellent – just talking to other parents really helps.”
Mrs P, Mid Glamorgan
Emotional Support for Brothers and Sisters
The LATCH Social Worker Team like to dedicate time to the brothers and sisters who often feel alienated when a sibling is taken ill, as family life is disrupted and daily routines are changed. They run a siblings support group and offer advice to parents on how to deal with any family problems that may arise.
The LATCH Social Worker Team can help guide parents through the complex benefits system, supporting families in claiming disability living allowance and other relevant benefits available to them and their children during the difficult financial time.
The LATCH Social Worker Team can help families deal with other agencies and organisations that will often need to be contacted such as employers, mortgage lenders, grant making bodies and council departments such as education, housing, council tax and blue badge.
They also help liaise with the medical team on the Oncology Unit as often families can find the medical treatment plan complex, confusing and over-whelming.
The LATCH Social Worker Team can direct and refer families to other agencies and organisations for specialist help and advice as needed.
Family Support Workers
LATCH has recruited two support workers to offer practical assistance to the families whilst they are in hospital. They undertake tasks such as food shopping, collecting siblings from school, sitting with the child when parents needs a break or just simply being there for a chat- anything to make easier.