When everything is running smoothly, the body is an amazingly efficient machine. It is something we often take for granted. Unfortunately for many children, everyday biological functions like digesting a meal or going to the bathroom are extremely difficult and distressing.
Thanks to the support of generous donors including the Hickory Group and the Kyle Sheldon Memorial Fund, patients and families with complex gastrointestinal or colorectal conditions are receiving highly specialised treatment at the Complex Colorectal Service (CCS).
The vision of paediatric colorectal surgeon Associate Professor Sebastian King, the CCS coordinates different specialists and clinicians across hospital departments to streamline experiences for patients and families. Now, with additional support, the CCS is expanding its team with two new dedicated clinical nurse specialists, a psychologist and a social worker.
“There’s a lot of stigma associated with complex colorectal conditions. Many people don’t know the quality of life outcomes for those children are as poor as kids going through chemotherapy for cancer,” said Sebastian.
“It’s not a glamorous area but it’s an area that’s worth supporting. From my perspective it’s really exciting [receiving funding] because it adds currency and legitimacy to what we’re doing here.”
Driving excellence in clinical practice, the experienced nurses Suzie and Jessica will assist Sebastian in setting up protocol systems and will work across every aspect of colorectal patient care.
“They will be in clinic, coordinate multidisciplinary meetings, educate nurses on the wards and in theatre and be a direct line of contact for patients and families,” said Sebastian.
Children with colorectal conditions not only deal with their complex physical situations, but also face crippling mental health issues with feelings of embarrassment, isolation and hopelessness. A part-time clinical psychologist and social worker will work one on one with patients and families to greatly improve their quality of life and remove the shame associated with their conditions.
The CCS is fast becoming a nationally recognised centre of excellence, and Sebastian hopes their personalised approach to complex care will be used as a framework by other hospitals. “There isn’t an equivalent of this in paediatrics in the country,” said Sebastian.