'Our support starts as soon as a child steps out of the elevator. For a child and its family – so also for brothers and sisters – this if often the start of a process that may take years. After her training in social pedagogical care, Marije Mikx first worked with maladjusted youths. After a long stint in the hematology department of the Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, she came to the Máxima Center three years ago. Marije and her colleagues immediately receive a call from the outpatient assistant when a child is registered. From day one, they will try and answer all the questions that children and parents may have. "We help them deal with everything that comes their way.'
Brigitte Thomassen has many years of experience as a medical pedagogical care provider in various hospitals. At the Máxima Center, she used to work at Neuro-Oncology and Solid Tumors. She likes the fact that she can build a real relationship with a family here. "After the phone call from the outpatient assistant, we try to meet immediately. We provide the child and parents guidance in the tests they will undergo on this first day. During the entire process at the Máxima we provide information about what will happen during a test or treatment. Together we find out how a child can feel most comfortable – or least uncomfortable – about everything that needs to be done. You try to make it as positive an experience as possible, with as little stress and pain as possible."
No day the same
The medical pedagogical employees are basically on hand at everything that happens. Marije: "That's what makes our job so interesting. No day is the same." Brigitte: "We do everything in consultation with parents and child. What do you need? What do you like? Everything we agree is recorded in a plan, so that colleagues know what the preferences are." Marije: "We're not just there for the child, bur for the entire family. For example, how do you deal with the other children if almost all attention is focused on your sick child? The most important thing is: we take the time to really listen."
Feeling at home
Marije and Brigitte are full of stories about their work. Take the four-year-old kid, for example, who takes a toy steering wheel everywhere. Brigitte: "When he presses the music button on his dashboard, that's my cue to start dancing. He loves it!" Marije: "In addition to these moments of distraction, it is often also about unpleasant things. I think it is great when, with our help, a child has figured out the most comfortable way of giving an injection. Something like that makes every subsequent time a lot more bearable." Brigitte: "At the Máxima Center, we try to cure all children. We want to give the child the feeling that they are heard. And that they can be themselves."
The medical pedagogical employees of the Princess Máxima Center focus in particular on counseling and supporting children in medical treatment. Together, they prepare the parents and child as best they can. They can also help the children process their experiences and offer distraction through play or creative activities. The medical pedagogical employees are part of a multidisciplinary psychosocial team and work at one of the Máxima's three care units. In addition to the medical pedagogical employees, the team also comprises medical social workers and medical psychologists.