The Family Support department is made up of three teams: Family Liaison, Therapies and Bereavement. We are now providing themed, weekly sessions to family members, such as Mindfulness on Mondays, Together on Tuesdays, which includes self-care and massage strategies and Wellness Sessions for siblings on Wednesdays. We continue to make calls to families and also offer bereavement counselling. I have worked at Demelza for over 20 years and am very excited to be leading this department, and look forward to meeting more families via Zoom.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to these two individuals who I’m sure will have a fantastic impact on the support we are able to offer to families. Welcome to Team Demelza, Jo and Anna!
- Jane O’Neill, Deputy Director of Family Support
Jo Burton, Bereavement Lead
Following my degree, I began working in community mental health services, supporting clients within both residential and outreach settings before also working with children and young people with complex needs. I then completed a degree in Counselling and Applied Positive Psychology and continued to support clients in a variety of settings before moving into education. My last role was as Head of Faculty within a large further education college, managing several academic areas and lecturing within Health and Social care.
I have always been aware of the great role Demelza has within the community and had initial contact many years ago when supporting some young people who accessed their services. The role of Bereavement Lead captured my attention as it was an opportunity to become part of a new emerging team, with a positive vision of providing quality services and expanding opportunities for our families.
I am passionate about the quality of communication and the relationships we have with our families and staff, which drives my work. I believe this underpins all aspects of Demelza’s work, and when this is achieved effectively then great experiences follow. I am also focused on potential and putting systems in place to realise this, rather than accepting what currently is as a given.
My vision for our team is twofold: that we provide an inclusive, quality and family focused service that responds to the needs of our families, throughout their connection with Demelza and secondly, that we inspire and contribute to the strategic development of children’s hospice care services nationally.
I have one four-legged son - a Cocker Spaniel called Oscar, who keeps me entertained daily with his mad antics. I enjoy learning, I play the cello, adore observational humour and have a geeky love of clouds and all things Harry Potter!
Anna Sillet, Family Liaison Lead
I joined the wonderful team at Demelza Hospice, based in Sittingbourne, at the beginning of March and it has certainly been an interesting time to start a new job! I came from working as a Ward Manager at Great Ormond Street Hospital, where I had worked for 7 years, as a Children’s Nurse specialising in Bone Marrow Transplant. I come from both a Social Work and Nursing background, having worked as an Adult Social Worker for many years in a Central London borough, mostly with adults with physical disabilities before retraining as a Children’s Nurse in 2011.
One day on my long commute into London, I saw an advert for the Family Liaison Lead role at Demelza. Dealing with families and supporting them at their most vulnerable and through challenging times is something that I have always had a passion for and an aspect of my role as Ward Manager that I really enjoyed, so I responded to the Demelza advert and as they say the rest is history! Having moved to Kent in 2017 (where I enjoy living in the beautiful countryside with my partner, 2 children and 2 cats!) I was aware of the Charity mostly from having a good rummage in some of the High Street shops but I wasn’t fully aware of the extent of the work the hospices undertook.
Despite the non-conventional start to my new role and the organisation, it has been so refreshing to be part of the creativity, flexibility and willingness of the new Family Support team to find new ways of working. Working alongside such positivity within both the team and organisation has grounded Family Liaison in good foundations and I hope to continue some of what we have started during this ‘new normal’, meeting and engaging with families virtually and online. In time, I hope to grow and develop the Family Liaison team within the new Family Support structure and in return deliver support and services that are meaningful for all our families and able to meet their many and varied needs.
I am proud to be part of Team Demelza and whilst distance has forced us apart, the ways the organisation has come together during this time has been inspirational and I am very much looking forward to the next chapter in the Family Support story.
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