Virtual volunteers help CHAS stay connected to Scottish families

Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) has developed three new volunteer roles as part of its pioneering virtual hospice service.

Virtual volunteering...is enabling CHAS to continue helping Scottish families who are unable to travel to Robin House or Rachel House due to Covid-19.
Virtual volunteering...is enabling CHAS to continue helping Scottish families who are unable to travel to Robin House or Rachel House due to Covid-19.

The new roles were created to support children and families during the coronavirus crisis and beyond.

Designed to help families who are self-isolating or unable to visit a hospice, they are being offered to all CHAS families and include storytelling sessions, letter-writing and friendship calls, all specially designed to ensure families never feel alone.

Ten volunteers have been trained in storytelling and already 18 referrals have been received, with nearly seven hours of storytelling taking place.

Some 20 letters have been sent out to children aged three to 15, with more in the pipeline and more than 25 hours of virtual home support have also taken place.

Rami Okasha, CHAS chief executive officer, said: “Through our virtual hospice service we’ve been able to not only support families through this incredibly difficult time but also develop these new innovative roles which have greatly contributed to the overall impact of the service.

“So far, 100 per cent of families said they found volunteering support positive with children able to hear familiar voices, helping to reduce the feeling of isolation.

“Our volunteers have also shared Makaton and Storytelling on our YouTube channel keeping our families entertained throughout.

“We are incredibly proud to have a strong volunteering culture at CHAS and our virtual hospice service is giving us the ability to embed this even more.

“I want to personally thank our amazing volunteers who keep the joy alive for families every single day, even in the toughest of times.

“We simply could not operate without them.”

The virtual hospice service from CHAS also offers families nursing, medical and pharmacy advice by phone and video; bereavement support; money and benefits advice and practical advice pertaining to the coronavirus.

The service also offers activity packs, art clubs and virtual Clowndoctor visits.

CHAS is supporting the NHS and Scottish Government in their national efforts too. Its at-home staff are helping sustain packages of care for children and CHAS is working with all three children’s hospitals in Scotland.

The charity’s support in hospitals includes the first hospital-based palliative care teams in the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, which launched last year, and specialist colleagues working alongside the NHS in Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock.

CHAS is the only charity in Scotland that provides hospice services for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions.

The charity offers palliative care and respite for the whole family via its two hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch.

To find out more, visit www.chas.org.uk.