Psychosocial Services is also directly involved in non-professional support groups, including the parents supporting parents and ward volunteer programme, and a number of projects that assist with various levels of support.
Having a child diagnosed with cancer is one of the most traumatic events that can happen to a family. It is therefore essential that contact with other parents who have been through a similar experience is established.
The parents are supported in such a way that they never feel that they are alone and that they are able meet with others who can provide guidance and support on a regular basis. If possible and appropriate, CHOC organises for parents and children to meet survivors of childhood cancer. A measure of CHOC’s effectiveness is that many parents who have received emotional and practical support during their difficult ordeal are today volunteers supporting parents with newly diagnosed children.
CHOC provides carefully selected and trained volunteers who spend quality time with young cancer patients as well as interacting with their parents. In this way, the volunteers are able to take the load off professional staff. There are established processes for the recruitment, training and support of volunteers so that they are fully equipped to cope with the difficult role of supporting children and parents during treatment. CHOC Interactive Play, which has been introduced at several treatment centres, keeps children stimulated and motivated through the long periods of missing school. CHOC aims to make treatment centres more child friendly and welcoming and uses trained, dedicated volunteers to organised structured play with children, talk to parents and occasionally assist professional staff. To find out more about volunteering for CHOC visit our Volunteer section.
When a child is diagnosed, the family faces an array of new medical terms and challenges. It is vital that parents understand the many aspects of the illness and treatment, as well as the experiences they may face and have to cope with during the treatment process. By equipping families with as much information as possible, they are better able to understand and manage the issues that lie ahead. CHOC has developed a handbook for parents, which provides specific details of each phase in the treatment.
Children with cancer miss significant amounts of schooling, due to treatment and/or vulnerability to infection. It is important that school staff and fellow pupils are informed about the pupil’s illness, their vulnerabilities, capabilities and the constraints to their activities. CHOC provides information to educators and assists the child with the transition back to mainstream schooling.
During and after the death of a child, CHOC offers psychosocial, practical and financial support to the parents and family. Remembrance services are held annually, during which bereaved families can participate in honouring the memory of their lost child. No family is left unsupported at the time of bereavement.