The simple act of breathing is difficult or impossible for some children. Children who suffer with severe upper airway obstruction or require a machine to breathe for them may require a tracheostomy (a small surgical incision in the throat through which a tube is inserted into the windpipe that helps you to breathe). Their lives are saved in ICU.
Looking after a sick child can be challenging, even with the highest level of support. The Breatheasy Programme at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is helping parents to look after their technology-dependent (these patients require technology to prevent death or further disability and a technically-skilled carer to look after them) children at home. The multi-disciplinary programme, co-ordinated by Sister Jane Booth, trains parents to take over the care for their technology-dependent children from the medical team at the hospital; empowering them to take care of their children at home.
“We strive to recognise and support the families who provide extraordinary special care to their technology-dependent children at home,” said Sister Booth.
The programme also improves the child’s quality of life, their developmental needs and prevents the psycho-social complications of long-term hospitalisation. They feel safe and secure growing up within their families, integrated into their own communities and eventually will be able to contribute to society at large. What makes this programme unique is that the parents (families) have to take complete responsibility for the care of their children at home, because as yet there are no paediatric home-based carers in the community.
The value of this programme has been recognised – Sister Booth and the Breatheasy Programme were recently included in a Health Innovators Booklet from the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation for her integral role in founding and facilitating the Breatheasy Programme. As a result, Breatheasy was one of only two health innovations from South Africa that was featured as part of a BBC series showcasing health innovations across Africa. The series focused on how these health innovations in Africa is making a difference to the lives of patients, their families and communities.
To watch the inset, visit bbc.in/1IFIUvF.
“I am so passionate about this programme, because it takes children out of hospital back home where they belong. It builds the capacity of the parents to be able to care for their children and allows children to continue leading their normal daily lives,” said Sister Booth.
This programme, fundraised by the Children’s Hospital Trust, breathes Western Cape Government’s motto of ‘better together’ by proving that healthcare is a collaborative effort that calls for united action by families, communities, local authorities and healthcare workers.