Just seven months after being appointed, a specialist children’s nurse is making a big difference to the lives of Jersey families with children with cancer.
Therese McGrath, who is based on the General Hospital’s Robin Ward, took up the post of Paediatric Oncology Nurse Specialist in February and immediately set about co-ordinating care for children and young people with cancer, and their families, between the hospital in Jersey, within the community and UK hospitals where specialist treatment is given.
Funding for the appointment came from The Antoine Trust, a charity set up by Islanders Paul and Anne Willing in memory of their son, Antoine, who died of a cancerous brain tumour on 11 April 2012, aged seven. After three years the post will become a permanent position within Health and Social Services. Having gained an invaluable insight into the hardships faced by local families in such situations – despite the wonderful care and support they received – Mr and Mrs Willing wanted to do something positive for others in similar situations in their son’s memory by enhancing the care children and their families receive whilst undergoing treatment.
A recent grant of £40,000 from the Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands to add to other generous donations will be used to reinforce Ms McGrath’s important work and to enable the Trust to widen its assistance for young cancer patients through further oncology projects.
Mrs Willing said they were are delighted to receive the grant. ‘It has been fantastic to see the impact that has already been made by Therese as Paediatric Oncology Nurse Specialist. We are truly grateful to her, as well as to the Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands and all of the other individuals and organisations that have donated to The Antoine Trust. These generous donations have enabled the Trust to fund this role for three years. We look forward to developing other projects to enhance paediatric cancer care in the Island.
Ms McGrath’s role involves co-ordinating the care provided by the existing hospital teams in Jersey and the UK, as well as by GPs, community nurses and cancer charities including CLIC and MacMillan. Not only does this ensure that UK best practice is achieved in the Island, but the burden previously borne by families in co-ordinating the care for their children is significantly reduced, thereby enhancing the quality of life for the entire family at such a demanding and traumatic time.
Ms McGrath says she has been able to make a meaningful difference from day one to the dozen or so families whose children are currently receiving treatment.
She said: ‘This is a wonderful post and a great opportunity for me to work closely with all our families that are affected by cancer, with the aim of improving their quality of care and reducing their levels of anxiety. This position ensures I can be available as a point of contact for all families, co-ordinating their care with members of the Multidisciplinary Team both here and in the UK and, therefore, affording them the best service possible.
‘Since coming into post in February it is clear how imperative this role is to children and families in Jersey affected by cancer. I have had very positive feedback from both families and colleagues alike, who report how invaluable this position has become and consequently how beneficial it is to everyone involved.
‘As always, I am overwhelmed by the bravery and generosity of Anne, Paul and their family, for making this post possible and for their continuing dedication to maintaining it. They have been hugely supportive. There is so much scope for this post and I am looking forward to developing and expanding it even further over time.’
The Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands is legally independent of the Lloyds TSB Group and an independent board of trustees determines the policies. The Chairman of the local foundation is Jurat Stephen Jones and the Executive Director is John Hutchins.
Mr Hutchins said: ‘ We were delighted to be in a position to assist the Antoine Trust and believe that the funded appointment will significantly help families in Jersey.’
The Lloyds TSB Foundation for the Channel Islands has donated in excess of £12 million to charities in the Channel Islands, the UK and overseas since its inception in 1985. It is a grant-making trust that decides on and makes donations to charities in both bailiwicks. Its mission is to support and work in partnership with charitable organisations which help people, especially those who are disadvantaged or disabled, to play a fuller role in communities throughout the Channel Islands.