Over the past four years the team at St James Institute of Oncology has restructured its methods of treatment preparation to help reduce the number of younger patients needing a general anaesthetic for treatment. This has been achieved through role play (offering the patient a chance to be a radiographer), creating a working model LINAC for patients to play with and by introducing new technology, such as iPads, as distraction methods. The team has secured funding to create a dedicated teenage and young adults’ waiting area within the radiotherapy department.
The radiotherapy department at Leeds treats around 6,000 new patients each year, 70 of them children or young adults. Though a minority group in number, treatment is complex. Radiotherapy for children and young adults requires a multidisciplinary approach in order to prepare and support patients and families through what can be up to seven weeks of daily treatment.
Historically this support was provided by a specialist nurse and play therapist, but it became clear that Leeds needed a paediatric specialist radiographer. In 2010 the radiotherapy department was successful in securing funding for such a post.
The main objectives set by the team from the introduction of the paediatric radiographer were to improve treatment preparation, reduce the number of patients receiving GA for treatment, and develop a motorised miniature treatment machine for children.
The team also hoped to improve awareness of paediatric services within radiotherapy to the trust and the general public, and to improve overall communication.
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