Supporting the Paediatric Oncology Unit
The Paediatric Oncology Unit is based in the modern facilities of the Children’s Hospital of Wales which opened in 2005. It is situated on the Sky ward with the outpatients department on the Space ward. The costs of running an oncology unit are high so there are often areas where NHS budgets are not available to fund.
LATCH funds the purchase of medical equipment and a range of clinical projects aimed at making the lives of children more comfortable on the wards and ensuring they are getting the best clinical support when they are at home and in the community.
- LATCH has recently funded a new Optia Apheresis machine to harvest stem cells from children.
- LATCH has funded new cardiac monitors for the ward and syringe drivers for use in the community
- LATCH supplies specialised buggies to improve the mobility of children who have lost their ability to walk due to treatment
- LATCH half funds a full time clinical nurse specialist for the community
Long term follow up service for survivors of childhood cancer
As survival rates for childhood cancer continue to improve, there is a need to follow up and manage any possible complications and after effects of treatment.
Once in remission, there is a need to continue to monitor a child’s growth and development, heart problems, fertility issues, lifestyle choices and psychological issues related to overcoming a life-threatening illness.
LATCH funds a Clinical Nurse Specialist and a Data Manager who put in place treatment summaries and a long term follow up plan for each patient to ensure that they receive appropriate care moving forwards.
A patient, sibling or parent can come and see the Clinical Psychologist for many reasons including:
- Worries about the patient’s health, development or prognosis
- Difficulties in adjusting to the illness and then returning to a “normal life” after treatment
- Coping with medical procedures and treatment
- Helping children and young people cope with pain
- Emotional difficulties
- Concerns about the behaviour of a child
- Social and family relationships
- Problems in school during or following cancer treatment
The Clinical Psychologist works closely with doctors, nurses, social workers, play therapists and physiotherapists in the Paediatric Oncology Service providing support, consultation, supervision and teaching. In addition, the role includes research and psychosocial service development.
LATCH is currently funding a research project that looks at the side effects of the treatment for childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL). Steroid based treatments can lead to a reduced mineral density in bones and hence lead to an increased risk of fractures, pain and sometimes a need for joint replacements. There are also other side effects such as behavioural problems, weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which can impact on the future quality of life for the patient.
The project is both clinical and laboratory based and is important as it will lead to a better understanding of the problem and an improvement in the treatment of side effects in the future.