This year’s national Hospice Care Week (9-16 October) is designed to help show the many faces of hospice care. Here at Barnsley Hospice we’re sharing the stories of just some of the wonderful people who help our patients and their families, in many different ways.
Today, we’re introducing…
Zoe Dransfield, family support worker
Zoe has worked for Barnsley Hospice for 16 years. Joining as a nurse, she moved into the family support team ten years ago, when the service was established. Her role is to provide bereavement support to relatives, helping them come to terms with what’s happened and work through their feelings.
“My job isn’t easy, but it’s so rewarding. Although I work mainly with children, I get to know all the patients and relatives we care for, keeping an eye on how they are day to day, and being there for them if they need someone to talk to.
When a family member is really ill, often children are not prepared for what might happen so part of my role is helping them understand. And it’s often frightening for a child to see a loved one so ill, so it’s about giving them comfort and confidence. All children deal with things in different ways.
I will often invite them to meet with me for tea (usually chicken nuggets and chips!) to talk things through, and we take part in activities that have been designed to help them work through their feelings – for example making memory boxes or scrapbooks.
I have really good links with schools in Barnsley and sometimes see the children there too, as well as supporting and advising their teachers.
The family support team also has a great relationship with Barnsley FC, which allows us to treat the families we work with by sending them to matches. The players usually come in and see patients and relatives at Christmas time too.
We see children for as long as they need us and it’s often a relief to parents to know there is support there for them. I still get emails from children I’ve helped in years gone by; they like to keep in touch and families will often come back to the hospice to visit.
The best thing about my job is just knowing that children will be ok and that like adults, they do get stronger. Every day is different and I work with a brilliant team.
Outside of work I relax by swimming and socialising – which usually involves a glass of wine! I live with my husband and son, and spend a lot of time with my niece and nephew too. Family is important to me both at work and at home.”
What one thing would you like people to know about Barnsley Hospice?
“That you don’t need to be frightened about coming into a hospice. Most people say it’s not what they expect. There is so much happiness here.”
What is your favourite memory of your time at Barnsley Hospice?
“A few years ago, I was nominated in the Chronicle’s Pride of Barnsley awards for the work I do at the hospice. Although I didn’t win, I had so many lovely letters and Facebook messages from people I’ve worked with and families I’ve supported. Some of the children still hadn’t forgotten me, even after ten years, which was really touching.
Another, very different, memory involves me jumping out of a cake dressed as Marilyn Monroe to celebrate the hospice’s 10th birthday. It’s amazing what you get roped into when you work for a charity!” Zoe is pictured that night below.