Monday 28th November 2016
Siân and Rónán are two of our Youth Support Coordinators, who work to make hospital wards a less scary place, providing an informal and relaxed atmosphere and keeping everyone as active as possible.
As a Youth Support Coordinator, my aim is to encourage peer support for young people going through cancer treatment. I do this by organising ward based activities as well as outings and trips outside the hospital. Over the last 12 months an average of 31 young people per month have availed of the support that I offer.
"Per month I have had an average of 8 one to one sessions with young people in the hospital setting. These sessions can include arts and crafts, Xbox, board games, long term projects to name but a few.
I have provided 12 social outings and trips for our young people throughout the year. These have included concerts, Nitro circus stunt show (lads night out), cinema and food trips, Alton Towers, bowling and many more!
I have provided 52 ward based social activities throughout the year for young people to attend. These have included our Tuesday Domino's Day, Xbox tournaments, external workshops, music lessons, arts and crafts, T-shirt printing, board games and pool tournaments. These sessions promote peer support and help to reduce social isolation during a hospital stay.
Over the last 3 years that I have been in post, I have attended our annual conference Find Your Sense of Tumour with 28 young people.
Recently we have had a fantastic 5 week programme of Art Therapy for our young people on the unit. These sessions were really well attended and they gave our young people the opportunity to discuss some of their fears and worries in a safe and supportive environment." Read more about Ronan's role...
In an ideal world, no teenager would spend their birthday in hospital. When they do, we try and make it as enjoyable as possible. When one of our patients had to spend his 17th in hospital, I arranged for a birthday message from his favourite football club and invited his family and friends to have sole use of the social room for a few hours so that he could have a bit of a celebration.
Once a month, I organise a social evening outside of the hospital, so that young people can still enjoy some 'normal' and fun activities, in the company of people who know how it feels to have their life turned upside down by cancer. In the past year, our socials have included going for meals, bowling, Alton Towers, indoor golf, vintage makeovers and had our very own pizza making workshop at Inferno Restaurant.
Not all young people want to speak to a counsellor. I spend a lot of time talking to young people individually; listening to how their feeling and I try to give them reassurance that they aren't alone in how they're feeling. So many aspects of their lives can be affected; body image, relationships, friendships, education, we spend a lot of time talking about these elements of their lives."
Next week we're bringing the medical world together in Edinburgh at our 1 Global AYA Cancer Congress, in partnership with Teen Cancer America and CanTeen Australia. International clinical and healthcare experts will be joining us to learn and share how we can best improve the lives of all young people with cancer, all around the world. Find out more about why it's so important.