When I asked Phinda what he is going to do when he leaves school, he said he is going to be a doctor. I said I was very happy to hear that and asked if he would do some liposuction on me. “Oh no, you are too old,” he said with a smile, “I will rather do heart surgery on you.”
And that is the reward you get when working with children! Brutal honesty laced with genuine kindness.
Point 6 of The International Children’s Palliative Care Network Charter states: Every child or young person shall have access to education and wherever possible be provided with opportunities to play, access leisure opportunities, interact with siblings and friends and participate in normal childhood activities.
The Rocking Horse Project has been very fortunate to establish strong links with schools that have been more than willing to donate text books and stationery to ensure that our children in isolation wards are able to continue their school work. Not only have the head teachers gone out of their way to assist us, but the children at these schools have amazed us with their compassion as demonstrated in the following email received,
“Our Grade 7’s ran an Entrepreneurs’ Day recently and one of our pupils would very much like to donate a huge chunk of her profits to The Rocking Horse Project.”
If we can educate children on palliative care in schools, this will go a long way towards encouraging them to be better citizens, and hopefully some of them may go on to choose this field as a career.
Sue Boucher, Information Officer for the ICPCN, put it so well in the ehospice article dated 05 July 2013 which stated “Ultimately, the failure of health professionals to recognise schools and colleges as key partners in palliative care provision should be viewed as a critical omission”.
Children and young people with life-limiting conditions, their families and carers need help and I encourage anyone or any organization to contact their local hospice and see what can be done.
There is way more to palliative care than just meeting the physical needs of children. Use your imagination and both you and the patient will benefit. I have!