St. Rocco's is my big cuddly comfort blanket. Thank you for everything.
RocON! Bringing young people & patients together
Working with children in schools and the community, our innovative RocON! projects benefit patients in many ways.
“The project has given me hope and, it’s given me friendship. The kids bring such simple joy, triggering good memories from my own childhood. Listening to how they simplify life keeps me grounded.” (patient)
By joining up with local schools and integrating children into the Hospice, RocON! has had a marked impact on the psychological and emotional care of our patients, as well as laying the foundations to improve access to care and enable us to engage with more potential service users.
The pioneering approach brings children and young people into the Hospice to work alongside patients and carers and whilst death is acknowledged, the focus is always on life- and on how to live as fully as possible with the challenges that we each face.
Since the beginning of 2015, four projects have run with patients who access our Day Unit services. The patients involved are a mixed group of ages and genders, with varying needs and at varying stages of illness. Each one has found comfort, validation, and often joy, in their involvement.
The children, who have ranged in age from six to 17, learn about palliative care from patients themselves and by meeting staff, visiting in-patient rooms and handling equipment.
The project engages new prospective service users through engaging with sections of society who may not otherwise be touched by the Hospice. Like ripples on a pond, these children go home and talk to their parents, family members and friends, challenging misconceptions that may exist around hospice care.
It is clear that patients have a need to feel validated and central to society, despite their illness. Being involved in the RocON! project enables them to move from the role of a patient being cared for, to a valued part of a team that is ‘giving something back’ and benefitting others.
Feelings of isolation and anxiety around being ‘a burden’ are troublesome psychological symptoms for many patients, but distress is eased and remedied through being part of the projects.
Many of the patients involved in the projects are able to open up to the children in a way they are unable to with family or friends. As a result, they have fed back that their involvement has made it easier to talk to their own grandchildren / children about their illness, and the realities of what the future may hold.
From the outset, patients taking part in RocON! are involved in the planning, organisation and evaluation of the sessions and direction of the project. They are a key part of a team also made up of volunteers, carers and staff, enabling them to feel ownership of the project, and have control of something at a time when a lack of control over their illness or bodies may be causing them distress.
Their feedback following each session is not only listened to, but acted upon, so they can clearly see the impact they are having on the project, validating their involvement.Working with the children reminds patients that there’s more to life than their illnesses.
To find out more about the project, please call Jan Temenos on 01925 575780 or email JanTemenos@stroccos.org.uk