Meet our Family Support Team: Rachel Ficinus

Tell us about what you do at VSK

I am the Family Support Team Manager

What’s unique about your role?

My role is unique because VSK is unique and this role does not exist anywhere else. My role allows me to bring the voice of VSK families and those who work directly with the families into all the non-clinical aspects of the organisation and ensure that decisions being made have the family perspective included.

What do you love about your role?

That I have the opportunity to be involved in all aspects of the organisation, while always keeping in touch with those who work directly with the families supported by VSK. Watching the Family Support Team work so tirelessly with families who have a child with a life-threatening condition, or whose child has died is a humbling experience and one that I am grateful to witness and support through my role.

What does a usual day look like?

It’s quite eclectic as I wear many different hats throughout the day. It usually consists of many meetings that require a different level of knowledge or perspective dependant on the audience, i.e. fundraising, media, hospice. I try to schedule my days with coffee and lunch breaks – the former is a must – and ensure that the family support team have the opportunity to talk with me when needed.

What’s your background prior to VSK?

I am a registered psychologist and have been practicing as a psychologist for the past 10 years. I worked in public psychiatry in regional Victoria – Portland and Ballarat – and then moved back to Melbourne to work with a foster care agency called Waverley Emergency Adolescent Care, where I was a counsellor for young people and families in the City of Monash council. I completed my Masters in Psychology (Educational and Developmental) at Monash University in 2012.

What’s something that other health professionals might not know about your role?

Although I am not 100% client facing in my current role, it is my experience and knowledge from my experience working in mental health that helps me understanding the challenges that are being faced by the families supported by VSK. This then helps inform the clinical practice implemented by the team across Victoria.

What is it that gets you out of bed every morning to come to work?

My children!!

What’s been a highlight during your time at VSK?

I think working with such talented and committed individuals. There is such an emotional component to the work conducted at VSK and it attracts staff who are here to give their all to the mission of the organisation. It creates a dynamic and exciting working environment that provides all the families engaged with VSK with an unique service not offered anywhere else in Australia.

What’s your top tip to those who have had a tough time or day?

Being kind to yourself. Finding a way to disconnect from work that provides a break from the demands of the day, allowing you to reconnect with family/friends and your life outside of work. For me, it’s the complete distraction provided by my children and once they are in bed, it’s a glass of wine and chilling out on the couch watching TV!

What is something about the grief process that people might not know?

That it’s ongoing, there is no cut off period where you now need to feel better. Your heart grows around the grief, allowing us to move along in our life whilst always holding on to the reminder of what has been lost.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Melbourne and attended Siena College and Deakin University. My parents ran the St Andrew’s General Store while I was in secondary school and have a great understanding of how consuming a family business can be. I have four brothers, one sister, four sisters in law, one brother in law and 10 nieces and nephews. My first job was working at the Donut Diner at Box Hill Central.  I met my husband while I was living in Portland and he followed me to Ballarat and back to Melbourne! I have two children (Molly and Archie) and have recently returned to VSK from maternity leave – so my life is now much busier! We have a beautiful Saint Bernard dog called Harry who eats more than the whole family.