Oral Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

Addressing the educational and psycho-social needs of children and adolescents diagnosed and treated for cancer in Australia (#425)

Barb Donnan 1 , Frank Alvaro 2 , Malcolm Coutts 1 , Luce Dalla Pozza 3 , Jenny Lavoipierre 1 , Donna Lawther 1 , Glenn Marshall 4 , Tracey Webster 1
  1. Educational Pathways Project, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  2. Paediatric Oncology, John Hunter Children’s Hospital, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
  3. Oncology Unit, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW, Australia
  4. Centre for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders, Sydney Children's Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia

The Educational Pathways Project operates across Sydney Children’s Hospital, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, The John Hunter Children’s Hospital in Newcastle and Ronald McDonald House Charities. Research conducted with parents of children and adolescents with cancer has driven the Educational Pathways outcomes to date. One of the needs requested by parents was for educational liaison support in order to address the educational gaps, needs and challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis in childhood or adolescence. This reflects best practice international research and models of recognised educational and psycho-social needs for the children and adolescents.

A pilot of an Education Liaison Coordinator commenced at Sydney Children’s Hospital in January 2012. This professional educator liaises between the multidisciplinary oncology professionals, hospital school staff, home school staff and the student and his/her family. The goal is to establish and maximise educational continuity and peer contact for the student from the time of diagnosis. After 3 months, this service has received referrals for 33 students and the uptake of the service has exceeded expectation.

This presentation will overview evaluative pilot data including stakeholder involvement, pilot challenges and sample student case studies. The data will be presented in the context of the need for legislative change in Australia in order to better meet the comprehensive needs of this cohort of students. Complimentary Educational Pathways research based initiatives will also be overviewed. This will include expansion of liaison services and evaluative data of the 2011 publication of the parent book titled What about school? A resource support book for parents of children and adolescents with cancer. This book is the first of its kind in Australia and has received extremely positive feedback to date from parents, students and teachers.