Making Respite Services Part of Routine Care at St. Jude's

What is that saying about how being a caregiver is one of the hardest and most thankless roles a person can ever fill?

There is no such saying. No caregiver would openly admit as much.

And that's a problem.

Caregivers—no matter the age of the person they're caring for—lead quiet, almost monastic lives of selflessness and self-denial, devoting all the time and energy they can spare to their loved one. They learn to neglect their own needs, even at the cost of their own health. They need a break.

One hospital decided to do something about that.

Helping Hands

St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital has forged a reputation for developing treatments for sick and difficult-to-treat children. But recently it launched a program aimed at the parents and caregivers of their patients called Helping Hands. The short of it is that this program was designed to give caregivers a break. And little surprise it has been an enormous success.

According to a report published in the Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, Helping Hands is believed to be "the first hospital-based respite care program of its kind for pediatric cancer patients and their siblings."

The long of it is that it a began as a pilot project available once a week between 9-4 pm. Trained volunteers would give parents up to two hours to do whatever they needed to do—whether it was errands or even celebrating a wedding anniversary.

Today the program runs seven days a week for as many as 12 hours per day and has an astonishing 50 volunteers.

Respite as Routine

"Our goal is to have a Helping Hands volunteer available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week," said Kathryn Berry Carter, St. Jude Volunteer Services director and the study’s lead and corresponding author. According to Carter, the keys to the success of the program are accessibility and convenience. Therefore, volunteers wear a 'communication device' so that they can be reached to arrange for respite services on short notice.

Study co-author Belinda Mandrell, Ph.D., St. Jude Nursing Research, hopes their report will inspire other hospitals to create and offer such a this service. "This is an example of a St. Jude patient care services program that adds to the professional literature in this field," she said.

"We want to make respite care a routine part of clinical care rather than crisis care," added Carter. "In the context of family-centered care, it is important that health care providers communicate to caregivers the importance of taking care of themselves."

More Articles

More Articles

In non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, you have your B-cell lymphomas and you have your T-cell lymphomas.

Why B...

MALT lymphoma is a rare B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that typically runs an indolent or slow-growing clinical...

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is a relatively rare B-cell subtype of non-Hodgkin'...

Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) is just one of 50-60 known B-cell subtypes of...

Lymphomatous meningitis [LM], also known as leukemic meningitis, is an extremely serious peripheral cancer that attacks the tissue that covers the...

Since so many chemotherapy agents can affect a patient’s sex drive and fertility, thinking about these issues prior...

Secondary cancers are cancers that develop as a result of chemotherapy and/or...

One of the greatest fears of lymphoma survivors is that they’ll relapse and have to undergo treatment again. This fear is normal but awful to...

Over the years, various classification systems have been used to differentiate lymphoma types including the Rappaport Classification (used until...

If you are new to this website or are looking for guidance to a specific page, here is a list of links to articles that can help you. The "Main...

Often the one who makes the first diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma / Disease is the person affected. There are some...

Lymphedema is abnormal swelling due to the presence of excess lymphatic fluid within the tissues. This swelling occurs when the...

There are two types of cancer: benign and malignant. Benign cancers are the kind that don't spread and don't threaten one's life. Malignant...

Advances in the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma have resulted in remarkable survival rates, even for...