Meet a Family Support Coordinator: Jean McGavock
Every family referred to us is given personalised support through a one-to-one connection with a Family Support Coordinator, who helps them find strength in times of doubt, comfort in times of sadness and joy in times of celebration.
We want to introduce you to our incredible Family Support Coordinator in the Hawke’s Bay region, Jean McGavock. Jean is trained as an art therapist, and has worked for many years in palliative care, providing psychosocial support for patients and families during times of illness and in bereavement care. We are so grateful for all the amazing ways in which Jean supports children and families who are impacted by cancer in her region.
What does a typical week look like in your job?
My week always involves family visits and going out into the community, usually to the home but sometimes to meet a mother or grandmother in a café. This is followed up with some work back at the office coordinating practical support for the family, such as organising a firewood delivery, a contribution to their power bills or a massage for a mum. It’s all about helping them to identify their own skills and strengths and what might best support them to meet their needs
What fuels your passion for your work?
The fact that I am making a difference to the lives of these families. Knowing that I can ease some of the concurrent stresses that having a child with cancer brings – both financially and emotionally. I am passionate about supporting people to do the best they can.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Making sure each family is getting the support they need – especially in terms of practical support. I am guided by the family but it takes a lot of discernment to ensure the right plan is put in place.
What makes you the right person to support the children and families you work with?
I’m interested in people and the diversity of how each family copes with having a child with cancer. I am curious about their strengths and what helps them keep a good balance amongst the challenges.
How do you deal with the emotional stress of being a Family Support Coordinator?
By retreating to my studio. I am a mosaic artist so I find being creative and doing detailed artwork very therapeutic. I am involved in a lot of community art projects and am often a part of exhibitions in local galleries.
How do you maintain a good work/life balance?
My grandchildren live in the area so I enjoy spending time with them, and I also love being involved in waka ama.
What do you think families appreciate most about what you do?
That we are there in an independent role with a lot of autonomy – we can be flexible with how often we visit and how we support each family. Whether it’s identifying challenges for the family, providing practical support or just being there for emotional support – the families don’t forget that we’re there for them in a really difficult time.
How do you help the families you support maintain hope?
I work to support their strengths so they are able to make the best of every moment of every day. It’s not focusing too much on the future what ifs, but focusing on what’s going well today and supplying good, clear information.
If there was one thing you wanted people to know about what Family Support Coordinators do, what would it be?
That we stand alongside families in a really difficult space, identifying all the strengths they have to cope and throwing in some practical support as well. We are there to be whoever they need us to be on any given day.
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.
Tania Pattemore is one of our amazing family support coordinators in Wellington, with an extensive background…
Michelle Spargo is our Team Leader in the Northern Region, where she looks after a team…