Providing free, peer-to-peer, psychosocial,
in-hospital and virtual support to Ontario childhood cancer families
Our Parent Liaisons (l to r) Michelle, Karen, and Susan
Please be advised that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, OPACC's presence at the hospitals is suspended until further notice. Keep watching your OPACC emails & social media channels for updates. In the meantime, our Parent Liaisons are still available to offer support virtually (contact them for details - see below).
Our primary focus in helping families is through our Parent Liaison program - the only one of its kind in Ontario - which is currently operating at The Hospital for Sick Children ("SickKids") in Toronto and at Credit Valley Hospital (CVH) in Mississauga. Parent Liaisons are professionals and parents who have already undertaken a childhood cancer journey and understand the impact a diagnosis has on the entire family. They help parents from a non-medical point of view and can help direct them through the myriad of services and opportunities that exist for families both in and out of the hospital. This program is offered at no cost to families!
Our Parent Liaisons meet with parents and families at Sick Kids and CVH and help to address fears or concerns that they may have. They are available for informal chats and visits wherever families might be in the hospital. Program services offered include:
Information on hospital services, community-based parent support groups, events and resources from other organizations, and more!
Weekly drop-ins where parents have an opportunity to get support materials, sit and chat with other parents, and enjoy refreshments in a comfortable setting
One-on-one support through private visits and chats wherever parents may be in the hospital
Peer connections with other parents of children with cancer
Hospital parking pass reimbursement and distribution of gift cards to newly diagnosed families for necessities such as gas, groceries, and dining.
Distribution of free items such as health record binders, tote bags, detergent pods for doing laundry at the hospital, toiletries and personal care items, educational books and resources, therapeutic toys (i.e. Courage Lions, Carla Can Sing gift packages), special treats, and more (item availability varies from week to week)!
As we grow, OPACC aims to take our Parent Liaison program to other Pediatric Cancer Centres in Ontario.
Lead Parent Liaison
Michelle Da Costa
Did you know that our services go beyond drop-ins, coffee, and peer support? In addition to the important work done in the hospital, the Parent Liaison team provides a crucial bridge between the organization and the broader community. Some of the work that our Parent Liaison team does in the community includes:
Provide training, support, mentoring, and encouragement to community-based parent support group Facilitators;
Meet with hospital staff, community partners, donors, and other stakeholders as needed;
Sit on advisory committees/focus groups and actively participate in research studies that add profile and credibility to OPACC and the parent voice as deemed necessary;
Serve as the main point of contact with media and external organizations (hospitals, government, etc.) seeking input from the perspective of the parent voice;
Attend community events, conferences, fundraisers, etc. to represent OPACC;
Attend funerals as requested by bereaved families;
Share information about programs and available supports from a wide variety of options including camps, support groups, organizations, etc.; speak/present to community groups and other organizations about OPACC and better understanding our stakeholders
Here's why parent support offered through the Parent Liaison program is so important:
Increases understanding of supports available within the local community and at hospital locations
Increases communication with members of the families’ health care team
Increases ability of families to source needed supports
Decreases individual levels of stress related to financial pressures
Decreases individual stress and anxiety levels related to feelings of isolation
and, perhaps most importantly, it increases the ability of parents to focus on their child - the child is supported when the parents are supported!
In a system of family centered care, the Parent Liaisons help empower parents to be better contributing members of their child's health care team.
Are we making a difference? Read powerful Testimonials from our families and judge for yourself!
Read our poster presentation on the development of the weekly support group program at SickKids here!
FACT: 2,025 hours of Parent Liaison service were provided in 2019 to directly support families in-hospital!
FACT: 96 care packages were handed out to newly diagnosed families at SickKids in 2019, which include health record binders, information & resources, books, detergent pods, gift cards, and more!
Please be advised that, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, OPACC's presence at the hospitals is suspended until further notice. Keep watching your OPACC emails & social media channels for updates. In the meantime, our Parent Liaisons are still available to offer support virtually (contact them for details).
SickKids: At Sears Cancer Clinic on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings from 10am-12pm and on select Tuesday evenings from 6pm-8pm at our monthly evening drop-ins (see below).
CVH: At the POGO Clinic once a week on Fridays from 10am-1pm (located at the far end of the hospital, past the Second Cup and Emergency department and right before the pediatric inpatient unit).
Schedules subject to change, check our Facebook page for the latest weekly updates
Times: 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Location: Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Sears Cancer Clinic
Description: An opportunity to get support materials, meet and dialogue with other peer parents, and enjoy refreshments in a safe, comfortable, and discreet facilitated environment.
Day: Last Tuesdays of the month
Times: 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Location: Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Room 8704
Special thanks to the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation and Lainie's Angels for being the original funders of the Parent Liaison program:
Also, special thanks to Starbucks Canada for their ongoing commitment to providing donations of food and beverages for our drop-ins!
Learn how you can sponsor a Coffee Service for our in-hospital families!
We also gratefully accept donations to our Parent Liaisons for distribution to families at our weekly drop-ins, including toiletries, detergent pods, toys, books, snacks, gift cards, and more! If you would like to donate something please contact our Lead Parent Liaison, Susan, at email@example.com. Thank you!
See some of the items that have been donated below: