The Leukaemia Foundation is dedicated to improving the survival and quality of life of children and young adults diagnosed with a blood cancer. Blood cancers account for more than 50% of all childhood cancers.
Further to the support the Foundation provides to children through our world-class research program, we also have developed a program to meet the physical and psychological impact of blood cancer on these vulnerable children. This program is called ‘Young Bloods’.
The Young Bloods program focuses on two main aspects of care:
It is proven that supported exercise improves a child's recovery following chemotherapy treatment, as well as reducing infections and improving quality of life. It may also impact on improved survival rates.
The provision of exercise to children before, during and post treatment in not consistent across Australia and best practice information is only becoming available now. Exercise programs have been identified across the country as being under resourced.
- Within the hospital environment, the Foundation will endeavour to ensure each child has access to an exercise physiologist in their treating hospital and has an exercise plan, with follow-up upon discharge. The Foundation also will provide a link to exercise physiologists nationally to encourage the sharing of knowledge and learnings from the program, and for consistency of programs across the country where possible.
- Where a local hospital is not resourced to run services internally, or it is not convenient for a child to access hospital programs (i.e., due to distance), the Foundation will initiate a program that provides external exercise services (or gym membership for a defined period) linked to the hospital exercise physiologist for a defined exercise plan.
- To ensure a nationally comparable program in each state, where outcomes can be measured, the Foundation will sign off on a program that is mutually agreeable to each respective children’s hospital where possible.
There already are some amazing psychosocial programs in place across the country. These are delivered by other non-government organisations and vary greatly state-to-state. The Foundation’s service provision will focus on the following, without duplicating what already exists, based on a state-by-state needs analysis:
- keeping children in contact with their peers during extended hospital stays;
- providing family emotional support – for the child, parents and siblings;
- access to psychologists – similar to our adult program; and
- access to diversional therapies – art/music/meditation therapies, etc.
These families also will have access to all the Foundation’s other services available to people with blood cancers across the country.