Today we visited the hostel where the mothers stay whilst their child is receiving treatment. This unit is used by the whole hospital with the majority of the rooms offering a standard charge rate. However, there are two rooms that are free of charge and prioritised for parents of children with cancer. The need of these rooms highlights the hardship and the extended periods of time that parents have to stay at the hospital to ensure their child receives their full course of treatment. The mothers are in rooms of six with no private space and with showers and toilets situated along the hallway. There is an evident need for more hostel space, better facilities and an overall improved layout. There is a definite sense of urgency to address this issue and plans have already been drawn up for a new hostel. With adequate funding, the new hostel will provide meeting rooms for parents groups, a kitchen where mothers can cook for both themselves and their children, as well as a dedicated learning space for play and education. The education rooms in the new hostel will be crucial. The government will provide some teacher support if the necessary space is available for them to teach in. At present children can be at the hospital for several months with no schooling, which makes it difficult, if not impossible for long stay patients to catch up. Unfortunately, for those children who are cured from cancer, it seems their life chances are still severely restricted as a result of falling behind in their education.
Overall, the hostel is estimated to cost about £250,000 and will provide accommodation to 28 parents or carers. If we were able to accommodate for this amount of people, it would mean that the child and mother could stay together for the whole duration of their stay in hospital. This would also free up beds on the ward, which concurrently would increase the hospital’s capacity to treat more patients. It really would be amazing if our plans could turn into reality and any offers of funding would be gratefully received!
After looking round the family hostel, we then met up with two nurses who were wearing our World Child Cancer T-shirts. Both these nurses are officially retired, yet they still give up their time to volunteer in the hospital with both their expenses being paid for by World Child Cancer. These nurses are wonderful and so symptomatic of the passion and the positive morale of the rest of the team at the hospital. They may lack all the resources they need to do the job they really want to do, but I can assure you you won’t find a more committed team anywhere!
This programme in Ghana is funded with UK Aid from the UK government.