E: Emotional Support

Emotions…many people try to avoid emotions, especially in a professional setting. When it comes to medicine, emotions and providing emotional support shouldn’t be avoided. 

“Your son has cancer.” Words no parent wants to hear and no physician wants to say. Unfortunately, whether it’s cancer or another chronic illness, these words, or similar ones, are spoken each and every day. 

Of the tenets which make up the practice of trauma informed care, the first and foremost is to minimize traumatic aspects of medical care. That is to pay attention to the child's and family's experience of medical care and do what you can to reduce frightening or painful aspects of necessary care and procedures. Seem simple enough, right?

The desire to help and care for others ranks high among the characteristics of all doctors and nurses. Caregiving as a profession is satisfying, meaningful and often very rewarding. But when doctors and nurses fail to balance the care they provide to others with the care they provide to themselves...

With the ringing of a siren, the call of code, or a particular sight or smell, your heart races, palms sweat, breathing increases. Your mind transports you back in time.

Incidents like last week’s mass shooting in Orlando, or prior events in Sandy Hook, Colorado, or Boston, bring a very real awareness of tragedy and trauma to the whole nation.

Why can some children and families, after experiencing an injury or illness, bounce back and cope effectively and other seem to struggle? Is this due to the severity of the injury or illness, or lack thereof? Environmental factors? Individual factors?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"...unless you're a doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider. Otherwise your words matter. 

Insufficient time presents as a common barrier to implementing trauma informed care within a hospital. With all the other duties and responsibilities doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers must address to care for the physical health of the patient, little time is afforded to addressing any concerns with coping with an injury or illness. 

Why is there such diversity at treatment sites for the psychological, emotional and social support (i.e. “Psychosocial Support”) of children with cancer and their families?  The answer: there were no evidence based psychosocial standards developed and in place to guide this care.

Providing care to chronically ill children challenges everyone, from the physicians to the nurses, and especially the family. Beyond the medical management of the child's disease, doctors and nurses need to assess and support the psychosocial needs of the child as well as their family members.