What being a Carousel Social Worker means to me

By Leslie Shuck, KCH Social Worker for Carousel, Palliative Home Care
Published: February 21, 2023

What is the Carousel Pediatric Care program at Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care (KCH)? The Carousel program is love, joy, sorrow, supportive, focused on living well, provides comfort, and so much more. One of my favorite things about the Carousel program is that we are there to support the whole family. My name is Leslie and I am the Carousel Social Worker. 

Leslie Shuck, KCH Carousel Social Worker

During my initial visit with a Carousel family, I try to describe my role as their Social Worker. While the nursing role is often more concrete with families, due to frequent medical appointments and previous hospitalizations, my role can be somewhat abstract and adapts to the individual family’s needs. I can be additional emotional support for the family. I can work with siblings who are processing big feelings with books and activities. I can be there with patients who might have fears or questions. I can provide education to parents related to end-of-life planning, language to talk with children about illness, or address specific needs of the family. I can help locate resources and so much more. 

Our patients and their siblings have surprised me so many times with how much they remember and retain from our previous visits. I was working on identifying emotions, building coping skills, and completing breathing techniques with a young patient who had frequent hospitalizations with subsequent trauma per parents. The patient let me know at the start of our visit he was feeling CONFIDENT and EXCITED that day, both emotions we had learned about in a previous visit. He then proceeded to lead a set of breathing techniques for me and even introduced one… unicorn breathing. We took a deep breath in and released our breath through our unicorn horn spreading magic over the room. 

I get to come together with parents to support their child and be a safe person to develop their psychosocial skills. My hope for patients, siblings, and parents is to set them up with the skills and support needed to live well. Despite the patient’s diagnosis, there are ways for the family to enjoy many moments together.

A big focus of the Carousel program is helping our families focus on living. Our team identifies family strengths and their interests to provide additional joy, love, and memories. Our nurses are able to do so many skills in the home to decrease the number of doctor and hospital visits for patients to experience a more normal routine and feel like a kid. We have amazing volunteers and donors who are also able to provide resources to help our families live well. 

While one of my favorite parts of the Carousel program is being able to support the whole family, my absolute favorite part is being part of a journey with dedicated, resilient, passionate, and loving families. So to our Carousel families, thank you for opening the door for your Carousel team. We are in constant awe of what an amazing job you do caring for your kiddo. 

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