Volunteering at GOSH - next steps… by Nikki Kenward

Posted on 2nd June 2015
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Yesterday (21-5-15) was my first time actually using Upledger CST at Great Ormond Street Hospital.  After months of training and induction, followed by Guiding for 3 months, I am finally on the wards.

 

I have been posted to Lion, Elephant and Giraffe wards that interlink and are all oncology wards.  There are about 12 rooms on each ward with one child in each.  As you can imagine there is a lot of space for equipment as they receive their chemotherapy and other treatments in their room.  Each room also has a small bed for one parent to sleep in and plenty of playing space.  Some families spent months in these rooms while the child has treatment for their cancer.  The staff are all highly committed, all go the extra mile and are very friendly.

 

I arrived at 5 pm to meet Jenni, the senior nurse who also provides some massage for children (the only person in GOSH currently to put their hands on children in a therapeutic way!).  She is funded by a separate charity and now has a room for this purpose, although she often works on the children in their hospital room.  As she finishes at 4.30 I aim to start in her room at 6.    

 

Jenni showed me round the three wards, introduced me to key people and showed me door codes, keys, cross infection protocols, pausing only to greet, hug and cry with a family who had come in as a child in their family had died earlier yesterday.  Her capacity and resilience was incredible and my first lesson, one of many I am guessing.

 

Jenni then left me on my own.  My main anxiety was would I be able to find the families I was working with and having found them, would I be able to find my way back to the therapy room where I would be treatment them!  Fortunately in spite of a few wrong turnings and with the help of a trail of crumbs I managed to locate the right parents and bring them to my treatment couch.  Three highly stressed, anxious and shocked parents, exhausted from lack of sleep and with their lives turned upside down overnight with a diagnosis of cancer in one of their children, signed up for a treatment with me and a therapy they had never heard of before.  

 

In spite of the intensity of their situation and grief, all of them really appreciated their short session with me, reporting feeling more relaxed, headaches gone, breathing deeper and as one mum put it “wonderful”. It was as if their needs were so great that their bodies were able to make maximum use of any helpful input.  Their stories were sad but they seemed to benefit from a neutral space to talk or not talk, to be held for a moment and I felt honoured to be alongside them for that moment.

 

They were all interested in my work with children and asked me  questions about it so I am feeling a cautious optimism creeping in as far as bringing our work to the children is concerned.  Perhaps by being there, working with the parents, talking to people the universe will work it’s magic and open a door for us.

 

Nikki Kenward CST-D

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