OPACC was proud to have a special guest speaker for our 2016 Annual General Meeting: Dr. Maru Barrera (Ph.D., C. Psych. Psychologist, Department of Psychology and Division of Hematology/Oncology; Senior Associate Scientist, Research Institute, SickKids Hospital) presenting on "Enhancing Psychosocial Support to Children with Cancer and their Families by Conducting Early Psychosocial Assessment".
You can view a copy of Dr. Barrera's presentation here.
In summary, the Psychosocial Assessment Tool (PAT) is used to determine psychosocial risk in families of children with serious medical conditions based on their respones to a screening questionnaire. The results outline three tiers of family psychosocial risk – Universal (low), Targeted (medium), and Clinical (high). The results can then be relayed to the family's healthcare team for appropriate follow-ups and access to helpful resources.
The evidence presented in Dr. Barrera's presentation shows that the PAT clearly works. However, for a variety of reasons (outlined in the "Barriers to Psychosocial Screening and Services" section of the presentation), it is not yet widely implemented in Canada and families don't have access to it unless they are part of a research project.
OPACC supports the implementation of the PAT and encourages families to voice their support for introducing it at treatment hospitals as a standard tool for families to complete at diagnosis to inform the team who will be treating the child. You can do this by:
Requesting it from your social worker or healthcare team and stress the fact that parents are in favor of using this tool as a standard of care to improve psychosocial triage.
Express your support of this standard approach to psychosocial care.
It is our hope that by building awareness of this tool with our families, demand will be created for it by parents and it will start to be widely used by the treatment hospitals.
If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to contact us!