A day in the life....

Support Line Coordinators Bay Dimond and Jane Hill

Our Support Line Coordinators, Bay and Jane are your first point of contact with Brain Tumour Support. They handle all support-related phone calls and emails as well as managing our database and our Facebook Members’ Forum.

“We never really know what will happen each day, other than it will be busy!” says Bay. “Most days start with checking the Brain Tumour Support Members’ Forum. We accept or reject requests to join the group; review any posts or comments that have been reported by members; and read through discussions and comment when necessary. We do our best to respond to help people feel listened to.”

The Support Line receives more than 100 calls per month. These can be from a huge variety of people including patients upset at a recent diagnosis or needing advice, carers needing support, Clinical Nurse Specialists wanting to refer their clients on for our support services or our own Brain Tumour Support Workers needing to check in after a home visit.

Distressing calls

“I recently spoke to a woman whose husband passed away a year ago and just wanted the chance to talk about him,” says Bay. “She told me about the little things that reminded her of him, like missing the holes he used to dig in the butter at breakfast.”

“My most recent conversation was with a woman struggling with her partner’s personality changes,” said Jane. “She isn’t sure how much is down to the tumour, how much is frustration with the situation and whether medication is involved or not. I also spoke to a carer who is coping alright emotionally, but whose main concern was finances. I signposted him to his closest Citizens Advice Bureau – he was struggling with the benefits system as so many are - and I emailed him info about grants and debt relief.”

In between phone calls Bay and Jane act as a hub for our nine Brain Tumour Support Workers (BTSWs) who are located across the country. “We try to do as much admin as possible to let everyone else concentrate on the people who need help,” says Bay. “Each of our colleagues works slightly differently, so we will do different tasks to support them – researching speakers/locations for meetings, organising events or checking clients are doing alright.”

Some calls can be distressing. “While working through my regular tasks, I received a call from a frequent contact at Southmead Hospital. He referred a patient and his wife to us: they had been informed the day before that his tumour is believed to be high grade with a poor prognosis and they were very distressed,” said Bay. “I called the couple and they were still in shock. Their main concern was for their young child, so I offered to send them some relevant Macmillan literature in addition to our standard welcome pack. I explained our services and that they would be referred to a BTSW, and did my best to assure them that at least they wouldn’t have to struggle alone.”


Rewarding work

While it can be upsetting, Jane finds the work very rewarding. “I really value the support line and how listening and being with people (all be it over the phone) can help,” she said. “I find the support calls and emotional wellbeing checks very rewarding, I like to reflect on peoples coping strategies, positivity, passions and resilience.”

And in doing their job, Bay and Jane have to have their own coping strategies, positivity and resilience.

“I find the hardest thing about talking to clients is not being able to fix things for them,” says Bay. “Brain tumours are such cruel conditions and I have to remind myself that there isn’t anything I can say that will change that. Hearing people say that I’ve made their day a bit brighter just by listening always makes it worthwhile.”

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The role of Support Line Coordinator is part-funded by Macmillan Cancer Support

If you, or someone you know wants support

Brain Tumour Support offers support to brain tumour patients and their families in a variety of ways - support groups, one-to-one,  counselling, telephone and on-line support.

For more information call our Support Line on 01454 422701 or email support@braintumoursupport.co.uk 

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