Chrissie is one of our wonderful Family Support Coordinators who supports families in the Auckland region.
After spending 17 years working in marketing and communications, Chrissie retrained as a counsellor, working in private practice for five years before joining the Child Cancer Foundation team. We are so grateful for the calm energy, incredible empathy and great sense of humour Chrissie brings to the families she supports.
What made you want to be a Family Support Coordinator at Child Cancer Foundation?
Being able to work with and support families through new challenges, happy times and grief, and walk alongside them until their lives return to normal.
What does a typical week look like in your job?
I support about 25 families and usually manage 6-8 home visits a week. These normally last an hour and involve having a chat with caregivers to find out how they are doing and what support they need, issuing beads for each of the treatments a child has had and talking/playing with the children too. I will also visit families on the ward at Starship Hospital and in clinic and deal with phone calls from families and suppliers. We make sure families are aware of the support services we and other organisations offer, so often there are phone calls or emails to let families know what is happening. All of this contact must be recorded – writing up notes can take a while.
What fuels you passion for your work?
The families we work with are amazing. Walking alongside them while they watch their children go through lengthy and sometimes distressing medical treatments and procedures is a real privilege, and helping them to keep positive and share some of their struggle with us so they can stay strong for their families is an honour.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
When children you have known pass away – it is very sad. Supporting the family through their grief is an important part of the work we do, but it still has a personal impact.
What makes you the right person to support the children and families you work with?
Being truthful and not sugar-coating is really important, and being able to ‘hold’ families through difficulty. I have also been told I tell terrible jokes (borderline ‘Dad jokes’).
How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
I try to keep to my hours. My phone and email are off when I am not here – families can contact other Family Support Coordinators on my days off. I exercise and take time to do creative things (e.g. journaling, learning piano, singing and sewing). I love spending time with friends and family, as well as reading fiction books.
What do you think families appreciate most about what you do?
One of my families sent the following message to me after they were discharged: “So grateful to have you support us, especially me, along the way. You are so calming and I appreciate you so much! See you for a cuppa some time!!”
Our support is powered by you
Our Family Support Coordinators are at the heart of everything we do, providing one-to-one support for each family.
Please donate today to ensure that each family can receive personalised support when they need it most.
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