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It was the best care possible; thanks for taking care of me when I found it difficult to cope; you are wonderful people.

- Family member of a hospice patient

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RocON! How we help school children to understand our care

14 May 2018

This week is Dying Matters Week. Find out about our hospice based project that helps school children understand the importance of living & dying well.

RocON - Woolston

RocON! is our hospice based project which helps school children to understand the work of St. Rocco’s in caring for people with terminal illness. It also explores concepts around not only grief and loss, but also around living well and making the most of life. It is supported by patients, carers, volunteers and staff. This year we are very grateful that RocON has received funding from the Cheshire Community Foundation.

Sarah Dillon, Headteacher of Woolston CE Primary, explains why she was keen for her class of seven and eight year olds to take part in the most recent project.

“I’d read about RocON and realised that the RocON! values fitted with the values we hold as a school. These are values that are for life – respect, tolerance, love and thankfulness.”

This was two years ago when the first group from Sarah’s school took part in RocON! She says the impact on the class who are now Year 5, continues today.

“The children learned not to be fearful of any kind of illness, whether it be minor or life-limiting. They also now regard St. Rocco’s as their hospice, a place that exists for everyone in the community. They constantly ask if they can fundraise to support St. Rocco’s. They have an increased awareness of the community in which we live - it really brought the values curriculum to life for them. The interaction the children have with each other has also benefitted from their involvement with RocON!. They are tolerant and respectful and very aware of each other’s needs.”

Since then the children have been involved in other community projects and designed a sensory garden at their school which opened last year and is based on the one here at St. Rocco’s.

This time project leader, Jan Temenos, developed a programme for the children incorporating hedgehogs. In school the children are thinking of ways to make more hedgehog friendly environments. Thinking about the wants and needs of hedgehogs through the RocON project helped them to think about wants and needs in life - their own and the needs of those around them, including those of patients and anyone with life-limiting illness.

Sarah knows only too well what a difference it can make to patients to be cared for in ways that are important to them and also for their families.

“When my Mum was ill St. Rocco’s was such an important place. It helped not only her but all of us. It helped all of us to know that in between the interventions that were keeping her well she could attend the Day Unit at St. Rocco’s, where she would receive wonderful care and be able to focus on something else. The way that patients are looked after meant that she was still able to have some control over things. She was never made to do anything. She could make choices and there was a real understanding of what she needed to feel comfortable.  Towards the end of her life she was cared for on the inpatient unit. My young son was welcome at any time to visit her and he loved coming here too. We could all come and visit her whenever we needed to.

“All of us felt wrapped up and cared for. It’s a place of sunshine. You feel hugged, accepted and welcome. It is a place of hope and it will always have a very special place in your heart. Whether you are a patient visiting the Vitality Centre or you are an inpatient or a family member, you will always leave St. Rocco’s with a smile on your face.”

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