Support through crisis

Charmain Felts

Ensuring people don't feel abandoned and alone

One of the aims of the Morrisons and Sue Ryder partnership is to offer more practical and emotional support to patients diagnosed with complex conditions, their families, carers and friends; ensuring people don't feel abandoned and alone or have unanswered questions.

Charmain Felts is a specialist care social worker supporting families accessing St John's Hospice services in mid and North Bedfordshire and West Cambridgeshire. As well as providing practical and emotional support where it is needed, she also works with other teams at the hospice to raise understanding of the physical, spiritual, psychological and social issues people face when dealing with an end of life condition.

"One of the most important aspects of the role is offering emotional support to patients and the people closest to them experiencing crisis," Charmain said.

Independence for as long as possible

Since the service was established, Charmain has worked with dozens of patients to ensure they are as comfortable as possible; and that they are cared for in the place they want to be.

"The conversations I have with patients and their families often focus on remaining as independent as possible, being discharged, moving to a care home or remaining at the hospice for end of life care. As well as emotional support, the role also involves providing practical advice and information relating to issues such as carer support, finances, benefits, planning for the future including funeral arrangements; and for those going home, it could also include care packages, meal or shopping deliveries and befriending options.

Charmain helped a young mother who was anxious about dying without her daughter having a formal legal guardian to continue caring for her. She worked jointly with a solicitor and various children community services workers to ensure appropriate paperwork was completed to enable the step-parent to gain parental responsibility; and made referrals to appropriate organisations who were able to provide the young child with ongoing support."

This achieved the mother’s dying wish in the least intrusive manner possible and provided the child with security and support." Charmain said. Over the last 12 months, Charmain has also supported many other patients with their care needs.

"Hugely beneficial impact on patients and families"

"The transition for patients that are discharged from hospice to home is now much smoother and safer, with greater attention given to individual care needs, funding, benefits, and the support of family members through this difficult time," Charmain said. "I think having a specialist social worker as part of our team has had a hugely beneficial impact on patients and families."