Support

  • Support is available to the child and family from the first day of admission and throughout the entire journey. Support from the medical, nursing, pharmacy, psychosocial and allied health team is available at all times.

    Art therapist

    The Children's Cancer Centre employs an art therapist part time. The art therapist offers support to children facilitating opportunities for them to express thoughts and feelings through art making. Art therapy sessions are available on a one to one basis, as well as in groups and are conducted in the wards and outpatient clinic.

    Care at home

    Nurses from the Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) can support and offer care at home (in the metropolitan region) and therefore reduce hospital visits. The district nurse can visit the child at home if appropriate. Your nurse coordinator or ward nursing staff will liaise with the appropriate district nurse and centre. There is a minimal charge for district nursing services.

    Many country centres also have district or community nursing support which can be similarly arranged. Home and Community Care (HaCC) is an option similar to the RDNS available through the RCH.

    Chaplains

    The chaplains provide care and support for families and children. They provide spiritual, emotional and religious support. 

    Dietitian

    A hospital dietitian is available on a referral basis to provide special diets as appropriate. The ward dietitian will see most children. Additional 'supplements' to the standard ward diet can be arranged to boost energy intake. The dietitian can also give practical ideas to help maintain weight during and after therapy.

    Education officers

    Members of the Royal Children's Hospital Education Institute are assigned to the Children's Cancer Centre. The education officers are available to provide a continuation of school work for any child able to benefit from it during their hospital stay. Once children leave hospital, the Ministry of Education Visiting Teacher Service can be involved if children are unable to return to school immediately, or have difficulty in catching up on work they have missed. The time of return to school will vary from one patient to another.

    Mental health service

    The RCH Mental Health Service is available to the Children's Cancer Centre to provide assessment and treatment to children and their families. Emotional issues that may arise for children and family members may include

    • Anxiety about medical procedures and hospital admissions
    • Changes in children's behaviour or mood
    • Difficulties with siblings
    • Disruptions or difficulties in family relationships.

    A brochure is available with further information by contacting the service directly on 9345 5511.

    Music therapy

    A part time music therapist provides group and individual sessions to the ward. The group music therapy session is held once per week to which all children and families are welcome. Individual sessions are available on a referral basis. Music therapy offers a unique avenue to express feelings that cannot be conveyed in words, provides an opportunity to vent both positive and negative energies, can aid relaxation and pain control, can emphasise healthy body parts, and provide opportunities to make choices and exert control over the environment.  

    Neuro psychologist

    A neuropsychologist assesses all children with brain tumours. Neuropsychology investigates the relationship between the brain and behaviour. A number of techniques are used to examine different aspects of thinking and functioning. Testing usually takes between three and four hours depending on the child's age and ability to be assessed. Neuropsychological assessment allows a child's progress to be monitored and ensure any strategies or interventions to be recommended should difficulties arise.

    Play specialist

    A play specialist is available Monday to Friday. Play is an essential part of a child's ongoing development. Play therapy aims to

    • Make hospitalisation a positive experience for children and families.
    • Minimise anxiety and stress experienced by children in an unfamiliar setting.
    • Enhance patients' emotional, social, physical, and cognitive growth.
    • Enhance understanding of medical experiences for children.
    • Help children to continue every day living experiences as much as possible.

    See the  Educational Play Therapy Department website for more information.

    Physiotherapist

    Physiotherapists are trained to assess and treat a variety of conditions that affect our ability to move. There are a number of reasons why children may be referred for physiotherapy. These include assistance for children:

    • With a chest infection.
    • With bone tumours who have had surgery. Assistance will be required to regain muscle strength, joint range of motion, and function.
    • To regain muscle strength which has deteriorated.
    • With brain tumours which may cause muscle weakness or problems with balance or coordination.

    Social workers

    All families admitted under the care of the Children's Cancer Centre are referred to a social worker. Families may need extra help because of the inevitable stress on time and energy that is caused by a child's serious illness. In addition to their supportive role for the whole family, the social workers are in a position to link families with resources. The social workers can be contacted by phone, or page. The main Social Work Department, telephone 9345 6111.

    Speech pathologist

    A speech pathologist assesses and treats children's speech, language and eating abilities. A speech pathologist may be particularly important for children with brain tumours. Following assessment the speech pathologist will work with a child and family to establish realistic communication goals. Treatment may involve exercising weak muscles to improve sound coordination, or improving word finding skills. Sometimes a communication board, which a child can point to in order to get a message across may be useful. Weakness or incoordination of the mouth may lead to chewing and swallowing difficulties. The speech pathologist will assess the child and may make recommendations as to the consistency of food required, and appropriate feeding positions.