Meet Tiffeny, our Support and Family Centre Coordinator!

We sat down with Tiffeny, our Support and Family Centre Coordinator to ask her about her role at The Archie Foundation and all it entails!

 

What is your job title? 

(I always have to double-check my footer for this, this is the improvement it used to be longer, hahaha) Archie Support & Family Centre Coordinator

 

What do you do at Archie?

I have a dual role here in the hospital – I support the families who come into the hospital. I am based in Parent accommodation (a 19-bedroom ‘hotel’ within the children’s hospital, we have a laundry, kitchen and living room, so it’s a home away from home, and it is a saviour to many of our parents who need to escape from the ward to destress and regain their composure. I look after parents who come to stay with us, I show them round and settle them in -parents often stay with us from as far as Inverness,  Orkney & Shetland (we’ve had families from the USA and Italy this year – both on holiday when children have taken ill). We have parents who have never been to Aberdeen before, so don’t know bus routes, shops etc. In this role, I can be anything from reception and concierge to tissue giver and shoulder to cry on.

We also have families who have been bluelighted in – maybe with no belongings/ money etc, we can help them out by providing meal vouchers, clothes, toiletries etc. This is the second part of my role. I process all funding applications – these can come in from parents of children under the care of the NHS – these range from Emergency Grants which could be a family doesn’t have the money for fuel to get themselves to an appointment, or they’ve had a longer stay than expected and are struggling to afford the time off work/ food while in hospital etc. We can also purchase specialist equipment that isn’t considered core by the NHS. We recently supplied a wheelchair sun and raincover to a family who have a child with complex needs, the wheelchair was supplied by the NHS when they outgrew a buggy, however the child couldn’t use the chair outside in most weathers due to sensory issues – The child is extremely sensitive to rain, wind and sun.  We have now given the family the opportunity to be able to access the outdoors as they would have previously when they used their buggy with covers.

We can provide hospital equipment – we have recently provided buzzies to the vaccination clinics and the pain nurse which this works in the same way that rubbing a bumped elbow helps stop the hurt, Buzzy controls sharp pain. The premise is that when nerves receive non-painful signals such as vibration or cold, the brain closes the gate on pain signals. These make a huge difference to children who are scared of needles.

We also provide funding for NHS staff to attend training that the NHS would otherwise not provide.

 

What is the most fulfilling part about your role?

The families I meet – Parents need to support their children when in hospital – My aim is to make that easier for the parents to do, if we can alleviate even their slightest worry, then I feel we are doing what we set out to do. Parents cannot focus fully on their child’s recovery if they are sleep deprived or worrying about where their next meal will come from. I‘m here for them as much or as little as they want, I could go from picking up a mum from the laundry floor who has just had some devastating news to making tea and toast and handing out meal vouchers to a dad who hasn’t left their child’s bedside and hasn’t eaten in 2 days. Some days I’m the only ‘normal’ some parents have spoken to since they woke up that morning, or arrived at the hospital 2 days ago – all they hear on the wards are medical terms, beeping of machines, discussion of their child’s condition –  I’m happy to catch them up on Love Island and let them moan about the weather.

 

Do you have any highlights during your time at Archie?

The feedback I get from parents – My daughter has spent time in the hospital, so I know what an amazing place it is and how much The Archie Foundation and NHS staff do to make the time here as comfortable as possible, but without a doubt I feel so privileged to be able to be part of a family’s journey. I am humbled by how important they think I have been in this process, whereas I feel like I just do what any other human being should do – I would always go above and beyond to make sure I could take away even the smallest amount of stress  from a family while they are receiving care.

 

We are a long line of Archie Supporters in my family – My dad initially fundraised for the building of RACH when I was a child. My sister and I both spent time in hospital as children – My sister for a few weeks following an accident, and me for a multitude of allergies. I was a volunteer for a few years before I became a member of staff. The Archie Foundation will always have a place in my heart.