Posted on Wednesday 20 May 2020
CLIC Sargent Social Worker Suzie shares her thoughts this Mental Health Awareness Week about her role supporting young cancer patients during the coronavirus crisis
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and we want to share the experience of our front-line social workers during the coronavirus crisis. CLIC Sargent Social Worker Suzie supports young adults aged 16 to 25, living with cancer. She’s sharing her experience supporting young people and how both she and young people are coping during the pandemic.
“Like any day as a social worker, with or without Covid-19, things are never the same and never predictable. My role is definitely more demanding during this crisis. I am really missing seeing patients and families face to face, as well as my CLIC Sargent and NHS colleagues.”
“Technology is a wonderful thing and is certainly helping us stay in touch but there is no good substitute to seeing people in person. At times it can feel very lonely working from home. Listening to people’s coronavirus anxieties, whilst also trying to keep your own personal fears in check has proved hard at times. Our team of social workers have really come together in these times to support one another, putting in place weekly team video calls and allowing a safe space to talk if needed.
“I’ve had to ensure I’m utilising all psychological support that is available to me and that I’m practising what I preach in terms of recommending fresh air and exercise to others!
“This time is overwhelming for patients who are on treatment. Some no longer see their regular nurses they know and trust as many staff have been transferred to different parts of the hospital and so are adjusting to new teams and faces. The pandemic means their parents are not allowed to be with them during treatment and so are having to wait outside in cars or away from the hospital. This is really hard for everyone. I will talk on the phone to patients whilst they are receiving their chemo or have a supportive chat with the parents who are worrying about them in the car park.
“I am struggling with supporting patients who are palliative but currently well – the young people who know they may only have a year left to live – and who know the importance of making every day count. Whilst any palliative diagnosis is devastating, I can usually help in some way. That may be physically being there with them in the room when they are told the bad news, holding their hands, or sitting and talking with them afterwards for as long as they need. Coronavirus means this isn’t possible. I have to just do the very best I can for them from a distance.
“What I am doing is trying my best to work creatively with these people. I am trying to ensure we keep talking, and I am letting them know about online support groups and activities.
“Despite the difficulties, there are so many positives that I have witnessed – the kindness of others helping our families, the way my team has come together to support one another, the efforts people are making to raise money for CLIC Sargent – and the resilience and determination of the young people we support.”
‘Ava’s Chain of Kindness’ created in loving memory of Ava, 2, to raise funds for young people with cancer
Teddy bears decorated by school children make up 'Ava's Chain of Kindness' in memory of Ava, 2, and organisers hope children across the UK will get involved!