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A new occupational therapist role is reducing procedural anxiety and distress for children with cancer at the Queensland Children’s Hospital, thanks to MyRoom Children’s Cancer Charity and your generosity.

For children with cancer, procedures like blood tests, tube insertions and scans become part of the fabric of their diagnosis.

Each procedure is vital to a child’s positive treatment outcome, but can come with distress and anxiety.

This is where Children’s Hospital Foundation funding has supported a new procedural care occupational therapist role in the Queensland Children’s Hospital’s oncology department.

Through a screening assessment, this role provides every new child diagnosed with cancer access to individualised support to identify appropriate procedural strategies and improve their hospital experience.

Emma Kerr has taken on this occupational therapist role at the Queensland Children’s Hospital and supported over 150 children with cancer through their anxiety in the past 12 months.

“Since the introduction of this role, we’ve seen significant improvements in the patient experience,” Emma said.

“Parents feel more empowered to support their child throughout their cancer journey and the same procedural strategies are being applied, no matter where the child is receiving care.”

Emma recently presented her work at the Australia and New Zealand Children’s Oncology Conference in Perth, where staff from hospitals around the country expressed great interest in the role.

For four-year-old Lincoln, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in August 2022, Emma’s support has helped to significantly reduce his anxiety around treatments.

Prior to becoming unwell, Lincoln would happily attend appointments at his local GP.

However following his diagnosis, Lincoln developed significant procedural anxiety – he started to get extremely upset and even refused to get out of the car for blood tests or appointments.

With the support of the occupational therapist role, appropriate strategies and procedure plans have been identified to help Lincoln complete his procedures as calmly as possible.

Now, he plans his treatment days around what toys he wants to bring to play with Emma as a reward after his treatment is finished.

Lincoln is back home in Kingaroy in the maintenance stage of his treatment, but his family remains close to Emma – sharing his successes and milestones.

The benefits of this occupational therapist role are not just for children and their families.

Thanks to you, nursing and clinical staff now have access to personalised strategies to ensure each treatment is tailored to a child’s specific needs and preferences – streamlining the model of care.

The procedural care occupational therapist role is made possible by MyRoom Children’s Cancer Charity and generous supporters like you.

Head here to find out how your support is the difference every kid deserves.