When change becomes the new normal: Supporting whānau during a pandemic
The last eight months have been anything but normal as the ever-evolving threat of COVID-19 disrupts the way we provide whānau with vital support.
The last eight months have been anything but normal for our support services as lockdowns, regional border restrictions and the ever-evolving threat of COVID-19 disrupt the way we provide whānau with vital support.
Not only have we been forced to move away from face-to-face to virtual support, but our in-person events have been cancelled, holiday homes closed and Christmas party plans spoilt for the second year in a row. Through it all, our dedicated team of Family Support Coordinators have done everything they can to ensure families are being provided with support, understanding and assistance every step of the way.
In late-2021, families in Auckland and other regions affected by COVID-19 lockdowns were supported virtually through phone or video calls. We also helped ensure that any families travelling in and out of Auckland for treatment were provided with the assistance they needed to get across regional borders.
For a brief few weeks at the start of 2022 it felt like we were getting back into the swing of things, with Family Support Coordinators in all regions able to meet families in person again. However, that sense of normality was short-lived, with all of Aotearoa being plunged back into Red in late-January. Zoom accounts were rebooted and any plans for in-person support were pushed to the back of the shelf.
The health and safety of the children and families we support is always at the centre of our decisions, so we continue to take a cautious approach during the ongoing Omicron outbreak.
We are grateful for everyone’s understanding and cooperation as we navigate the ongoing challenges of this pandemic and look forward to being able to restore our full scope of support when it is safe to do so.
If you require any extra support or would like to clarify the support available to you at this time, please get in touch with your Family Support Coordinator or contact us at childcancer.org.nz/contact-us.
The Child Cancer Foundation team has stayed connected during lockdown through many light-hearted video calls!
Virtual highlights from the last eight months
Eleanor’s Purple Heart ceremony
In the midst of Auckland’s long lockdown last November, Eleanor Houston received her Purple Heart bead via Zoom! The Purple Heart is the last bead that tamariki receive in the Beads of Courage® programme, representing the end of their active treatment for cancer.
Since Eleanor and her family live in Auckland, which was in Level 3 at the time, getting her bead and certificate to her was a real team effort. The certificate was laminated by Christine in Dunedin, the bead was organised and sent by Amy in Christchurch and when it all arrived at Eleanor’s house their Family Support Coordinator Chrissie presented it to her over Zoom!
Thank goodness for the magic of teamwork and technology, ensuring these special moments could still go ahead in lockdown. Congratulations to Eleanor and her family – what a milestone!
Picnic catch ups during difficult times
“During Level 3 late last year, I was supporting a family whose teenager was very unwell. Prior to Waikato going into Level 3 we would have regular face-to-face check-ins to support Kaama as she navigated this journey with her daughter Josie.
“As Waikato went into alert Level 3 home visits had to go on pause, but knowing the value that face-to-face visits had for the family we arranged to meet outdoors for picnic meetings instead. Kaama had some chairs set up that were distanced and I picked up takeaway coffee on my way so we could safely enjoy it together in the sunshine while chatting.
“A few weeks later, the family received the terrible news that there was no more treatment they could do for their daughter and that she was now palliative. It was devastating for the family. The following day, Kaama called in tears and asked if we could meet up, so again we planned a picnic-style meeting in their driveway with takeaway coffee in the sun.
“It was a beautiful time spent talking about their journey, the ‘what next’ and everyday life. It wasn’t the usual way I would meet with a family, but there was something special in that moment that even with the restrictions of COVID-19, I was still able to support the family.”
- Andrea Lane, Family Support Coordinator in Waikato
Read more stories like this in our latest issue of Sharing magazine.
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