HELPING OTHERS MAKE THE MOST OF LIFE
president of Shanghai Children’s Medical Center.
The social workers department in the Children’s Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai was established in 1998. Today, the department has 39 groups of volunteers and many of them do more than just provide emotional care to families. For instance, the social workers have to at times act as the communication bridge between doctors and families when treatments don’t produce the desired results.
“Parents are often frustrated and blame the doctors when the treatments don’t yield the expected outcomes. This is when we step in to calm these parents down and help them understand that the doctors want nothing but the best for their patients,” explained Zhang.
In cases where a child’s medical insurance is insufficient, social workers often help poverty-stricken families to source for financial assistance and they do so by contacting a host of charities and foundation on behalf of the parents.
Gould first visited China with her husband in 1994 and the couple had worked in various orphanages as part of an international team of volunteers. The experience was such a fulfilling one that they decided to return every year. In 2006, the Goulds made the life-changing decision to invest their time and money into the cause, selling their big home and cars back in the UK to move to Luoyang, Henan province.
“We knew that if we really wanted to make a difference, we needed to live in China,” said Gould.
Despite her experience as a nurse in the UK, Gould said that she nevertheless had much to learn about pediatric nursing in order to help China’s orphans.
“Whenever I went back to the UK, I would find an ex-colleague who could teach me more about it. So every time I returned to China, I knew a bit more about pediatrics,” said Gould.
Due to her selfless efforts in Changsha, Gould has been featured in the media on numerous occasions. She said this has resulted in an increasing number of people in China becoming more aware and interested in contributing to the palliative care movement.
Gould has also been approached by local doctors who are interested in working together to develop healthcare models. She added that she is more than happy to offer consultancy services to help others set up their own practices. However, Gould noted that there are still local cultural beliefs and superstitions about death that stand in the way, but she is confident that these will eventually fade away in the future.
She is hoping that Butterfly Children’s Hospice can through education and training initiatives help to further promote palliative care in China. The home is currently working on producing Chinese textbooks and training materials.
It has also launched a new educational video, which according to Gould is available to “any healthcare professional to use…to educate people about palliative care: what does it do, what does it need.” The video includes footage of parents speaking about their experiences in palliative care.
“We really felt that the one thing we could do through our work is to show people that we can care and make a difference for the children who will live very short lives,” said Gould.
“And maybe in this way the government will see this as an essential model of care for children suffering from terminal illnesses.”