Presented by: Leigh Donovan
Following the diagnosis of childhood cancer parents’ often come to think of their child’s hospital as a ‘second home’ over weeks, months and sometimes years of treatment Throughout this time, parents describe a growing disconnect with their existing support networks, including friends in their local community, schools and colleagues. Distance between the treatment centre and home, the impact of a new life experience and associated personal adjustment, and the reality of those in the local community ‘getting on with life’ are all factors which contribute to this growing divide. An innovative model of transitional bereavement care will be presented which complements existing models of integrative palliative care honouring the symbiotic transition between curative and palliative care, acknowledging the continual cycle of bereavement experienced by parents following the diagnosis of childhood cancer. The gradual oscillation between formal hospital bereavement care and community support is further supported by the Dual Process Model of Grief. Through gradual re-integration into their community family members oscillate between hospital-based care (loss oriented coping) and their community (restoration oriented coping). This model recommends bereavement care take a community capacity building approach with health care professionals taking an educative role commencing with anticipatory guidance and support for families and their community of supporters prior to the death of a child and facilitating ongoing connections with formal and informal support providers in bereavement.