Meet the St Cuthbert’s Hospice Family Support Team

Categories: Care and People & Places.

Our Family Support Team provide support to individuals and their families using our In-Patient Unit and Living Well Centre services.

Aislinn Le Fevre – Social Worker

“I lived just across the road from the Hospice growing up and used to visit fundraising events held here. I volunteered in the Langley Moor charity shop too, so the Hospice has always been part of my local community. When a job came up within the team last spring, I jumped at the chance to apply.

The Family Support Team help bridge a gap, bringing non-medical care into a medical environment.

We look at the bigger picture and think about a patient’s care plan holistically, considering things like their emotional and social needs. This might be as simple as a quick catch up and cuppa to check in on their wellbeing whilst they are at the Hospice or working behind the scenes with other care providers and the council to see if we can help put anything else in place here, at home or upon discharge, to help them feel more comfortable.

As a social worker, I can help deal with things such as care and support, finance, and lasting power of attorney queries. Things which can be quite overwhelming for a patient and their family if they’ve never had to deal with that type of thing before.

Sometimes patients think they need to understand everything. They don’t. We’re here to help answer any questions they might have.

We do often have difficult conversations, it’s part and parcel of the job, but we always take the time to listen and offer support. Our team make sure to listen to your wishes and are on hand with information to help you make informed choices and decisions about things which matter to you.

People are often surprised that we are based at the Hospice. Our office is just upstairs above the In-Patient Unit. Being on-site means we can offer timely, compassionate, and personalised care. It’s lovely to get to know the people using our services.

We see the person outside of their diagnosis, because they are so much more than their illness.

We recently helped reconnect a patient with their family members and were able to organise for them to be moved to a care home nearer to where they used to live, where they had an established network of friends and family. Helping patients make those social connections and support networks is so important.

One of the best things about my job is being able to get someone back home after they thought they might never be able to go back. I was surprised when I started work at the Hospice to learn that many people who come into our In-Patient Unit are able to go home after they have received Hospice care.

We work closely with the whole clinical team here at the Hospice – our doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, pharmacists, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists, to provide the very best care. We’re all cogs in a wheel, working together for the patient and their family”.

Sam Williamson – Family Support Worker

“I joined the team here in 2022. I knew of the Hospice’s good reputation and colleagues and friends spoke so highly of it. It’s such a special place to work.

Part of my role as a Family Support Worker is getting to know the people we care for. Sometimes it’s just having a general chat, a chance to ask how they are and to take the focus away from their illness for a little while.People like to ask about my life too, my family and what I’ve been up to. A simple catch-up can help us to see where we can help you.

There is often so much pain and disruption when someone is diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, it’s nice to be able to say ‘let’s just chat for a bit’ and ‘you can be yourself for a little while’ away from all of the medical things going on.

It’s all about giving the patient back some control, a lot of their illness might be out of their control, so it’s important we try to empower them where we can.

Sometimes people just need a bit of reassurance that their feelings are totally valid.

Recently, we spent an hour sitting and chatting with a patient before they were going to be discharged and moved to a care home. They let us know they had had a ‘really good hour’ with us, which had eased their nerves.

No two days are the same, but we always start with a morning handover with both of our clinical teams, one for our Living Well Centre and then for our In-Patient Unit. Handovers are important to see what’s been going on overnight, if we have any new admissions, what groups will be taking place in our Living Well Centre and if there’s anything else we need to know.

We’ll then go and chat to patients in the In-Patient Unit and speak with the guests visiting the Living Well Centre that day. They might need support with financial worries or have questions about their care and what will happen as their health journey progresses.

Our job is to look after the patient but to also think about their family. Often the people caring for their loved ones don’t label themselves as ‘carers’, they see themselves as ‘just’ the husband or wife, or child, but they need support too.

We had one carer who told us they had been able to go home and have a full night’s sleep for the first time in weeks after chatting with us, because they had had time to talk things through and knew their family member was being looked after at the Hospice.

Another said they didn’t think their loved one would ever get outside again but we were able to get them out in a wheelchair to enjoy our beautiful Hospice gardens.

We make sure to see who our patients are as people. It makes me proud to know I have been a part of someone’s care journey and helped them to get the care they need, at a time and place which is right for them.

Aislinn and I work together to try to make sure we help a patient have a support system in place of people to fight their corner, and we’re always fighting their corner too.”


St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham, is a registered charity. Whilst some of the running costs are met by the NHS through local Commissioning Groups, a further £2 million pounds per year has to be raised by the hospice to run the services, with much of the money coming from local events and fundraising activities.

St Cuthbert’s Hospice opened in 1988 and provides care for people with life limiting conditions, as well as giving support to their families.

The Living Well Centre offers day services each week day, such as physiotherapy, complementary therapies, advice on symptom control and social activities.

The In Patient Unit, which opened in 2006 following a public appeal, allows the Hospice to offer 24 hour care for people living in Durham, Chester le Street and the surrounding areas. There are 11 bedrooms which provide individualised care planned to support the total wellbeing of each person, taking into account their physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs. It provides holistic care for patients with life limiting illness.

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