Sisters and brothers are welcomed and included in the care offered to the family.
Brothers and sisters who have a sibling with a life-limiting condition may have different experiences to their friends.
Respite provides an opportunity to spend quality time with their family or they may wish to have time pursuing their own interests alongside other young people or with members of the Francis House team.
Brothers and sisters sometimes need additional support, time to talk and space to share their feelings and worries.
In addition to being able to stay for respite, the brothers and sisters have their own activities, outings and specialist support.
“Siblings can feel very isolated, they can have a tough time, watching their brother and sister being ill and their parents going to hospital. They need to be encouraged to step back from their caring role and go and have fun, at Francis House they can come and just be children.”Maira Williams, nurse and member of the 'Seasons' sibling support team
From the age of five brothers and sisters are invited to join the Seasons group, where they can meet other young people whose sibling also uses the Hospice.
There are three groups for young and older siblings. Groups meet regularly for age appropriate activities and trips.
The Seasons groups enable brothers and sisters to have fun, make new friends and chat in a relaxed environment. These meetings help Care Team members to get to know them as individuals, allowing more personalised care and support.
Maira says: “Within Seasons we have three age groups and meet once a month. We have activities for the younger ones which are focussed on play, but also encourage the children to talk about how they are feeling. We create an environment where they can share their thoughts if they want to.
“A lot of issues from childhood come from pushing down their feelings. The children often think ‘my brother or my sister has it worse – how can I complain?’
“To be able to talk about the things that are bothering them, and to feel okay about that, makes a big difference in their future lives.”
Zoe Saxon’s children were able to benefit from the Seasons group before she took advantage of the respite care being offered to her daughter Lillie.
“They have such a good time, and they always come home with a big smile on their faces, with a collection of artwork and prizes that they’ve won through games,” says Zoe.
“Each session always has a theme and as much as they make it fun, it can help support them emotionally too. Every child needs to be a child and every child needs to have fun as part of their childhood. Francis House is an amazing place and gives them that space where they can just have fun.”