New hospice services gives young adults a helping hand

A charity that provides hospice care to seriously ill children in the North West of England is blazing a trail in the sector by hiring a dedicated staff member to tackle social isolation in patients who outgrow the service.

Derian House Children’s Hospice has created a role to focus on helping young patients develop a support network outside of the hospice to lean on once they turn 26 and have to move into adult services.

“They can find themselves socially cut off and spending more time alone”

Lynn Grayson

The new “transition support worker” job has been funded by the charity LifeNoW for the period of one year in the first instance, with the possibility of extension.

The appointment is believed to be the first of its kind in the sector.

Lynn Grayson, who began working at Derian House in 2015 initially as a clinical nurse specialist for palliative care before being appointed to clinical director last year, said progressions in healthcare meant the hospice was helping more patients into adult services.

However, she highlighted how young people risked being “socially cut off” after leaving the hospice, based in Chorley, Lancashire.

“When a young adult reaches their 26th birthday, they are no longer able to access services at Derian House and, although their care needs can be met by adult services, they can find themselves feeling socially isolated,” said Ms Grayson, who has more than 30 years of paediatric nursing experience.

“I am passionate about the needs of young adults”

Shelly Baron

“Advancements in technology and medicine mean life expectancy for some people with complex conditions is improving, and we are seeing more and more young adults facing this situation.

“Where they once enjoyed coming to Derian for respite stays, social visits and emotional support, they can find themselves socially cut off and spending more time alone.”

The hospice’s newly-appointed transition support worker, Shelley Baron, will work with more than 20 young people at Derian House, helping them to reach out to friends in the outside world and ensuring they have links with other support agencies.

“I am passionate about the needs of young adults and helping them to make a rich and fulfilling social life in which they are supported outside the hospice setting,” said Ms Baron, who took up the post this month.

“We are really proud that this excellent project has come to fruition”

George Thomas

George Thomas, co-founder and trustee at LifeNoW, which helps improves the lives of young adults with life-limiting conditions, said the new service would provide “hope” for the hospice patients.

He said: “We appreciate that even with the best NHS and local services there can be challenges in the transition from children’s to adult services, and this is what we aim to bridge.

“This is the beginning of a very exciting time and we are really proud that this excellent project has come to fruition.

“What this new service provides is hope and not just for those young adults immediately involved, but for younger families who will see provision being made for their children in the future.”