Training for Caregivers of Seriously Ill ChildrenTottori University Hospital’s Children Home Care Support Center
Tottori University Hospital’s Children Home Care Support Center began operating in April 2017 as a center to support home care for children with cancer and other serious illnesses by training doctors, nurses, and caregivers who care for children. This is part of the support for the “community life for seriously ill children and their families” that in turn is part of Tottori Prefecture’s and The Nippon Foundation’s “Working Together to Make Tottori Japan’s Most Livable Prefecture” project. This is Japan’s first center of its kind, and aims to train 18 specialists over the next five years.
The center was established in November 2016 to train specialists including doctors, nurses, and caregivers engaged in home care for children with cancer and other serious illnesses who require medical care. The center’s director is Yoshihiro Maegaki, head of the hospital’s department of neuropediatrics, and the deputy director is Akiko Tamasaki, a lecturer at the Tottori University Faculty of Medicine’s Institute of Neurological Sciences Division of Child Neurology. The four-person staff also includes one full-time nurse and one administrative assistant.
Addressing a shortage of trained specialists
The number of children in Japan with cancer and other serious illnesses receiving medical care at home is estimated at more than 200,000, which means that support for home care after leaving the hospital and reducing the mental and physical burden on families is a major issue. Approximately 500 of these children live in Tottori Prefecture, and a survey of the families of 40 of these children who are outpatients at Tottori University Hospital showed that only roughly 20% are receiving home nursing care. This is mainly because of a shortage of specialists providing care to seriously ill pediatric patients.
In response, the center has launched an on-the-job training (OJT) program for doctors, nurses, and caregivers who intend to provide home care, to teach them specialized skills through hands-on training. The center offers three types of training:
Type 1: Dr. Tamasaki and the full-time nurse visit patients’ homes with nurses from local home nursing care stations and provide instruction on medical care.
Type 2: Dr. Tamasaki and the full-time nurse visit preschools, schools, and social welfare facilities and instruct teachers and nurses in things to look for in children and how to respond to emergencies.
Type 3: Doctors, nurses, and social workers observe outpatient care and receive instruction in diagnosis and treatment at Tottori University Hospital.
Each of these courses is for six months in principle.
The program’s first session was a visit to the home of a seriously ill five-month-old infant. Dr. Tamasaki and the full-time nurse met the child’s visiting nurse and rehabilitation specialist at the home, and instructed them in how to stimulate the child’s development and other issues related to infancy.
Dr. Tamasaki noted, “We are looking at a six-month training period, but our goals will vary depending on the occupation involved and the needs of the caregiver. For the time being, we will train specialists working in the western part of the prefecture, where the hospital is located, but eventually we hope to expand to central and eastern Tottori Prefecture.” She also commented that the center is considering presenting certificates of completion to specialists who complete the six-month course.
The center will hold a symposium on the subject of “play” at 610 Kitchen in Tohaku-gun, Tottori, on Sunday, June 4, to discuss how to play with seriously children and how to support these children through play.
The Nippon Foundation