No Parent is ready to hear, “Your child has cancer”. It is one of the single most overwhelming experiences one can possibly face. You feel completely alone and lost. The CHOC Psychosocial Team helps make the journey more bearable and less frightening.
The CHOC Psychosocial Team is reaching new heights! A year and a half ago CHOC had social workers/counsellors in five paediatric oncology units. At the end of last year the team increased to seven social workers/counsellors and two social auxiliary workers providing services to nine paediatric oncology units in five regions!
The value of the CHOC psychosocial services lies in the team functioning “on the floor” creating the opportunity for supportive relationships to be formed from the time of diagnosis through the treatment process and thereafter, whether it means a cure or end-of-life and bereavement support.
Two years ago, the CHOC psychosocial team had around 9,000 contacts in a year with the children, teens and their families. Contacts include, assisting the medical team in the breaking of bad news, orientating patients and their families in the treatment unit, ongoing counselling, preparing children and parents for medical treatment procedures, end-of-life care and bereavement support – or any services provided directly to children and family members by the psychosocial team. In the last year this number has increased to as an estimated 17,000; with the number of beneficiaries receiving psychosocial support nearly doubling!
CHOC has now received new requests for psychosocial support services at three other paediatric oncology units: Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital (north of Pretoria), Polokwane Provincial Hospital; and Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital (in Cape Town). This is over and above the nine we are currently servicing.
We are extremely pleased to see the growth an expansion of the psychosocial programme because we know the significant difference it makes to the children, teens parents and family members. We are humbled that we can touch the lives of almost every child with cancer and their family treated in these units!