During the long hot summer holidays it can often be a challenge for parents to keep their children occupied and amused. This challenge is likely to be much greater when a member of the family is seriously ill. Because we consider the family to be ‘the unit of care’, we try to find practical ways of supporting and helping them.
The Summer Club is an innovative service developed to respond to both the needs of parents and of their children. The aims of this service are:
- To offer respite to parents
- To offer the children quality time and interaction with other children in a safe environment
- To help alleviate the psychological distress which may arise from the illness
The service is offered to children, of whom one of the parents is a hospice patient or the main carer of a hospice patient. It is also offered to children who have lost a parent (a hospice patient) during the previous 12 months.
The club operates over six to eight weeks during the school summer holidays. The children’s ages range from four to twelve years and the number of children taking part is usually around twenty. To ensure the safety and supervision of the children, a number of volunteers – usually one for every four or five children – accompany the club in all its activities.
The activities are planned ahead and a mixture of fun and culture is put together. The children enjoy trips to the seaside or swimming in hotel pools. Boat trips or the cinema are other favourites. Museums or exhibitions are also on the programme and every effort is made to provide enjoyable and stimulating activities.
Our social workers plan and oversee the club and are there to listen to the children and to comfort or counsel them. Volunteers assist in all the outings and activities.