Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice introduces online counselling using Zoom

The Family Support Team at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice has expanded its counselling service to offer additional online family and bereavement support to patients and their relatives during the coronavirus pandemic.

Student Counsellor Rachel Bradbury working on her laptop
Rachel Bradbury, Student Counsellor at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice

A greater choice of support

Although face-to-face counselling at the hospice is not currently possible due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team’s specialist counsellors have continued to provide much-needed support over the telephone and they are now introducing the option of virtual therapy using Zoom.

Patients, families and carers who prefer to receive support in this way are sent a secure link and can speak to one of the team’s trained counsellors over a private video call from the comfort of their home at a time that suits them.

Liz Bellenger, Head of Family Support Services, said: “We’re really pleased to be offering counselling over Zoom, which will provide individuals with a greater choice of support to meet their needs. We understand that this option won’t suit everyone, and we will be continuing to offer telephone support, but for many we know it is comforting to physically see the other person when they are sharing feelings that might be difficult to talk about.”

“You can’t underestimate the value of human interaction”

The Family Support Team has also welcomed two new student counsellors, Lucy Rushworth and Rachel Bradbury, who will be providing telephone and Zoom therapy as part of their training to become qualified counsellors.

Lucy is in her final year of study and is working towards a Level 4 Diploma in Person-centred Counselling at Craven College in Skipton. She said: “You can’t underestimate the value of human interaction, and feeling somebody alongside you in a time of difficulty can be really powerful.  Having had first-hand experience of the positive impact of counselling myself as a younger person, I knew this was something I wanted to do.”

A vital community service

“Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice provides such a vital service in our community and it felt like a natural choice to complete my final placement here,” Lucy said. “Since I started in January I have been providing telephone counselling to patients and families, but I’m also looking forward to offering Zoom sessions if that is their preferred choice.

“The whole ethos of counselling is that it has to be tailored to each individual. Sometimes the format in which counselling is given, or the platform used to communicate, is therapeutic in itself. For example, some people prefer talking on the phone as they feel they can speak more freely, whereas others prefer to see a real person on the screen. Everyone is different and it’s very much led by how the individual feels.”

Rachel, who is undertaking a Postgraduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy at Leeds Beckett University, was also inspired to change career after a positive experience with counselling. She said: “A key driver for me becoming a qualified counsellor is to be there for other people the way someone was there for me. When I saw that Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice was looking for student counsellors it seemed like a sign, as my dad was actually cared for at the hospice before he passed away 23 years ago. It seems like I have come full circle.

“Online and telephone counselling is obviously very different to in-person, as it’s not as easy to pick up on people’s body language or facial expressions. However, I have found that some people find it more freeing and have fewer inhibitions.”

Tailored support in lockdown

“It’s great that the hospice has introduced Zoom counselling,” Rachel said. “It is a good middle ground between telephone and face-to-face, especially for people that are a bit younger. Many issues are exacerbated at this time of year, and with the current lockdown it’s good that people have a variety of support tailored to their needs.”

The Family Support team at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice is a multidisciplinary team including a chaplain, social workers, counsellors, bereavement support workers and volunteers, who provide emotional, psychological, social, financial and spiritual support for patients, their relatives and close friends. They provide holistic care from diagnosis onwards, and after the person has died.

Find out more information on Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice, the specialist palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them.