At World Child Cancer, we put a major focus on building psychosocial support into our programmes; that is why our new 'Training of Trainers' psychosocial support course is of great importance. Psychosocial Support Advisor, Megan Cruise, initially spent a year volunteering across Ghana, Malawi and Myanmar training healthcare professionals in how to support families and how healthcare professionals can support themselves. It was during this time volunteering that Megan started developing a new psychosocial support training package. Now, 18 months into her time working at World Child Cancer, the package has been developed into a professional ‘Training of Trainers’ course that equips select healthcare workers with the knowledge and skills needed to train others in psychosocial support.
Improving the wellbeing of healthcare workers
This type of training is not only important in improving the well being of healthcare workers and families but will ultimately improve cancer care for children with cancer. The emotional difficulties of childhood cancer can have a great impact on nurses and doctors who have to deal with the daily pain, suffering and even death of children whom they can grow close to over time. This is all whilst having to handle the pressures of complex treatments and high workloads as a result of being understaffed. It is a highly emotional and stressful job that can have detrimental effects on mental health workers if not dealt with properly and can also then affect the quality of care for children with cancer.
Supporting the mental health of cancer patients and their families
Supporting the mental health of families and patients is also important. Many families find the stress of childhood cancer and its associated monetary, physical and emotional costs overwhelming. As a result families may abandon treatment, significantly reducing their child's chance of survival. Providing psychosocial support helps to reduce abandonment rates, ensuring children stay in treatment until it's completed.
A key feature of the training is that it is sustainable. Teaching childhood cancer care providers how to deliver a training package on psychosocial support means that they can then deliver training for colleagues at their own paediatric oncology centres as well as staff at other centres; thus creating a sustainable system.
The first Training of Trainers workshop was delivered in Cameroon, December of 2019, and has continued in Vietnam in March 2020 followed by Malawi in July 2020.
This training consists of four courses:
- The emotional impact – looking at the impact of childhood cancer on the child and their family, along with effects on nurses and other staff members
- Supporting families of children with cancer – exploring the skills and techniques implemented when working with families
- Supporting yourself and others – teaching healthcare workers how best to look after themselves and others within a highly emotive and stressful working environment
- Building resilience – Learning how to bounce back and prevent burn out when under pressure, 10 characteristics of resilience and how to implement into our work
The workshop in Cameroon, December 2019, received some encouraging positive feedback.
Training and empowering the healthcare staff with specialist knowledge in psychosocial support allows them to then continue to pass down these methods independently to other colleagues, helping to ensure that the paediatric oncology department can work effectively and sustainably. It is a vital step towards improving the care for children with cancer in low-and middle-income countries around the world. To support more training like this, donate today.