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Saving lives, supporting families

A day in the life... 

5th July 2018

Have you ever wondered what the day to day role is like for our Support Practitioner? We caught up with Gemma to see how a typical day goes for her and the families she supports. 

Why did you want to be a Tamba Support Practitioner? 

I’ve always enjoyed working with multiples, particularly during my Norland training and seeing the special bond that they have. From nannying I moved to working in children's centres, and found it really rewarding working with families who needed help the most. When the Tamba Support Practitioner role came up I knew it was right for me as it combined the two different aspects together.

What types of families have you supported?

In the past, I’ve worked with many types of families – such as those who have sadly lost a parent and need some support during a time of grief. I’ve visited families where a parent or child may be seriously ill and they need someone to care for one child while they visit the other in hospital or need someone to stay with the parent at home so their partner can go to work. Some families have extreme parenting challenges – they may not have a routine at all or may need some direction with sleep or behaviour issues. Other families have adverse housing conditions like lack of space or difficulty getting out of a top floor flat with a buggy. For multiples families in particular, there is a higher risk of post-natal depression or other mental health issues and these families really benefit from Helping Hands support to build their confidence and help them to enjoy their babies and see the positive side of being a parent rather than feeling overwhelmed by the things they need to do.

Often the issues that the family consider to be the biggest may not actually be their most significant obstacles, and I can help them to identify and address the less obvious challenges.

What does a typical day with a family look like?

When I arrive at the family home, I meet the family face to face for the first time, having previously talked to them over the phone. I discuss their existing routine and any challenges they are currently facing. This time of the day will often be disrupted by feeding time or other needs of the multiples and this leads to further discussion about ways the family’s life could be made easier, such as feeding two babies together.

I spend up to 7 hours a day with the family, getting involved in all the practical aspects of caring for the children and tailoring my knowledge to meet the needs of the family. Because every family and their needs are different, no two days are the same, so there isn’t really a typical day.

I visit the family at different times on two different days to see what their needs are during different times, sometimes staying until bedtime and other times visiting earlier in the morning. The support I give really depends on the needs of the family at that time and dealing with any issues that are going on during the visit as they come up.

My role is different to other professionals who work with these families as I’m able to spend several hours with them each time and can address a range of issues, not only the issues that they consider to be the biggest, but also the less obvious ways their day could be made easier.

What kinds of support do you give to families?

When I visit the families at home, I give support with putting a routine in place or adjusting an existing one to meet the children’s needs, support with feeding and weaning, helping the family to get out and about, and supporting them with sleep issues. Sometimes, though, it’s just giving practical support related to managing two, three, or four babies together and I find it’s often the little changes that make the biggest difference.

I also support families by phone and email. I contact them before a visit to introduce myself as it can be quite daunting for them having a stranger in their home. I also help them to think about some of the issues they are facing beforehand. I usually phone families again following a visit to see how they are getting on, and whether they need any additional support either at home or by phone. This also gives them a chance to raise any difficulties that have occurred since the visit and discuss whether the changes we’ve made are working or need adjusting to suit them.

During a visit, I try to help families to get out to local groups and access local support, so that they have the confidence and ability to access it independently once the support from Helping Hands has ended.

For some families with specific medical needs, I can support them with the logistics of attending hospital appointments or visiting a parent or child in hospital.

What difference do you feel the support makes to families in crisis?

Families often say they feel refreshed after a visit, and that they have been listened to. I find that their confidence increases and they feel empowered to continue doing the things we’ve put in place on their own. Parents often get bogged down by the everyday chores and jobs they have to do, so Helping Hands really gives them space to enjoy their children and recognise what a good job they’re doing as parents, especially in difficult circumstances. Even something as small as having someone to listen to them helps families to feel that their difficult situation has been acknowledged, but also to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and realise that for most families things won’t always be so difficult.

What’s the best thing about being a support practitioner?

The best thing is meeting so many different multiples parents and their wonderful children, getting to know them, spending time with them, seeing how far they’ve come and the progress they’ve made. After 6 months or a year to hear from families that their children are thriving and they’ve been empowered to make changes themselves is so rewarding. Supporting parents them to become more independent and able to manage on their own is a really wonderful feeling.

What are you most proud of in your role?

I’m most proud of being able to work with such a supportive team at Tamba who I can call on for support, who send other resources to families, and together we support the families holistically. I wouldn’t be able to make such a difference without their support and I’m very proud of what we are able to achieve as a team, as well as the Volunteer Support Practitioner who also support families.

 

If you think you, or someone you know, may benefit from our Helping Hands service you can find out more about the support available here.

 
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