• Name: Sarah Slatter 
  • Job title: Family Support Worker 
  • Joined the team: June 2011 

How did you get into your role and come to work for Katharine House?   

I have worked at Katharine House Hospice since June 2011, originally in administration roles, but since 2017 specifically on the inpatient unit. When the Family Support Worker role became available, I was really excited about it and was so happy when I was appointed. 

What’s a typical day like?   

Each day starts with a team brief, where we share information about how our patients and their families have been overnight. The team will let me know if there are any families particularly needing my support.  

Throughout the day I then meet with families and visitors to see how they are doing and if they need any support or help. This could be anything from questions about the hospice to financial/benefits or legal queries where I can signpost them to support. I might also simply provide a listening ear to explore how they are feeling and what their aspirations and hopes are going forward; those things that are important to them at this time and looking at how they can be achieved.   

I assist our Social Worker with organising patient discharges home, such as applying for funding for care packages, and sourcing care agencies to meet the needs of the patient.  I also talk to families who have lost a loved one at the hospice, supporting them through the early days of their loss, guiding them through the practicalities and offering bereavement support. 

What do you wish people knew about hospice care?   

That hospices are so much more than a place where people come in their last days. They are about enabling people to live their best life, which could be with support from our inpatient unit, community team or Living Well centre and helping patients to stay at home, if that is their wish.  It is a lively and vibrant environment. 

How does it feel to work for the hospice?   

It is extremely rewarding, but also tough and sad at times. However, being able to help patients and their families at what is often the toughest of times is hugely satisfying and heartwarming. 

What makes Katharine House so special?   

It has to be the people who work here, who are so passionate and focused on providing the best, most holistic care to our community. The team works together so well and are all aiming towards the same goals. We are also very lucky to have such a beautiful building for our patients and the gardens are outstandingly beautiful. 

As this week is Dying Matters Awareness Week, what are your tips and advice on starting honest and transparent conversations about death and dying to help people feel informed, supported and empowered at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives? 

If you can, start conversations with family and friends early. This allows the conversation to build more naturally and gives the time needed to think and articulate your thoughts and wishes.  Writing your thoughts down before any discussion can help you focus on what is important to you and will make sure you don’t forget anything. 

Now for some quick-fire questions…  

If I had to sum up my role in one sentence, I’d say: supportive. 

The best thing about my job is: feeling that I have made a positive difference to a family at an extremely difficult time. 

My highlight since joining Katharine House is: moving into the Family Support role, which allows me to work more closely with patients and family. 

If I could go anywhere in the world, I’d go to: Australia to see my sister and family – I haven’t been yet! 

My favourite dessert is: sticky toffee pudding. 

My favourite season is: autumn. 

If I won the lottery, I would buy: a cottage in the Lake District. 

People are often surprised when I tell them: I play the ukulele. 

My idea of a perfect day is: walking with my dog at Buttermere, Lake District, with a cream tea at the end! 

My favourite thing to eat is: chocolate. 

I never miss an episode of: 24 hours in A&E – I love the life stories. 

Without doubt, the best animals are: dogs of course! 

The best advice I’ve ever been given is: kindness can make a bad day good, and a good day better. 

My favourite way to unwind is: a good long walk, then curling up on the sofa with a big mug of tea, biscuits, a warm blanket and a good book. 

When I’m not at work, you will probably find me: walking my beagle, Phoebe. 

My go-to biscuit is: Chocolate Malted Milk. 

My all-time favourite film is: Serendipity

I’m currently listening to: Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair