Every day at Birmingham Children’s Hospital there are over 3000 staff making sure that we run a first-class facility for our children, young people and their families. We will be taking a regular in-depth look at some of these staff roles and how important they are in the day-to-day running of the hospital.
Today we talk to Kim Harvey and Samantha Bissell, who are Clinical Support Workers in Oncology (cancer) Daycare at Birmingham Children’s Hospital to find out more about their jobs.
What does a Clinical Support Worker do?
Kim: Our role is to support cancer patients, their parents and families. So on a daily basis, we meet and greet patients who are coming into clinic for appointments and weigh them. The treatments cancer patients have can make them feel poorly and unable to eat and the doctors calculate their medication using their body weight, so this is an important part of the job.
Samantha: We organise play activities for patients coming into the day ward area, such as games and arts and crafts. We offer distraction support for patients who need to have cannula’s inserted for their medicines to be administered or children undergoing a general anaesthetic for bone marrow procedures. This can be a scary time for children so we do our best to get them interested in something else – like a game – to take their mind off it or comfort them if they are upset.
We also help in daycase theatre with bone marrow aspiration (drawing out bone marrow for testing for cancer cells) and lumbar punctures.
We collect blood and platelets from the blood bank as some of our patients having chemotherapy need transfusions to counteract low blood counts.
What’s the best part of your job?
Kim: Building up relationships with children and being able to make their time here happier. I know I have achieved that when they go away with a smile on their face and come back into clinic the next time and ask for me personally.
Samantha: For me it’s being there for children and their parents to help them through a difficult time and going home at the end of the day feeling like I have made a difference to someone’s day.
What’s the worst part of your job?
Kim: When our children lose their battle with cancer. When our patients are newly diagnosed, their parents come in dazed and confused, trying to take all the information in. The news is given to them in a cramped room and straight away they are taken to a busy, noisy ward with only a thin curtain around the bed for privacy, whilst they try to take in the most devastating news they will ever receive.
Samantha: When you see children and parents at their lowest moment after getting bad news and trying to stay professional when all you want to do is give them a hug and cry with them.
This is why we are so passionate about fundraising for the £4million Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal. We can’t stop the bad times for children and families but we can make it a better environment for them to spend time in. We have organised a fundraising family fun day for cancer patients and their families in November. Cancer patients can’t normally mix with other children during treatment because of the risk of infection, so this event will allow all our patients to enjoy a day out with their families and other patients away from the ward, play games in the soft play area and visit stalls including tombola and hook a duck.
Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust provides a comprehensive service to children, young people and their families.
We are one of the leading paediatric teaching centres in the country, with international research and development in areas such as:
- Childhood cancer studies
- Liver disease
- Infection, inflammation and immunity
- Molecular genetics of childhood conditions (how these are passed on, and how they cause disease in the body in terms of chemistry)
- Nutrition, growth and metabolism in childhood
- Drug use in children
- Relapsed and refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
- Infant neuroblastoma
- Infant brain tumours
Our facilities include:
- A 22 bedded Paediatric Intensive Care Unit
- A centre of excellence for children with cancer, cardiac, liver and renal disease
- A national transplant centre
- 280 inpatient and day-case beds including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- 38 specialties and supporting departments
- An Emergency Department dealing with over 45,000 patients a year
- Twelve theatres
- Three MRI scanners
- A CT Scanner
- An endoscopy suite
- A catheter laboratory with digital imaging facility
- Burn, Neonatal Surgery and Education Centre
- Wellcome Clinical Research Facility
- Renal Unit
- Teenage Cancer Trust Unit
- Ronald McDonald House (parent and family accommodation).