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July 2020

Nurse with 9 year old Ollie jpeg
Ollie Shawand clinical nurse specialist Mel Cook.

Chemo at home for Children’s patients

In an Australian first, the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) has begun low-complexity intravenous chemotherapy for oncology patients in their own homes.

Delivered via the hospital’s hospital-in-the-home ward and day cancer centre, the service offers some chemotherapy treatment to eligible patients and expects to treat 20 to 30 patients each year.

Ollie Shaw, nine, was the first child to receive chemotherapy in the home in May and will continue to receive weekly intravenous treatment at home to slow the growth of tumours on his brain stem and optic nerve and to preserve his sight.

Ollie’s father, James, said the service would help preserve important time at school for Ollie.

‘Normal visits to the hospital would take up to three quarters of the school day and given Ollie has some challenges with learning, that school time is precious,’ Mr Shaw said.

Chief operating officer Jane Miller said the RCH was excited and proud to provide what is understood to be the first at-home chemotherapy service for children in Australia.

‘In the current climate, our hospital has needed to adapt quite quickly to be able to best deliver great care to our patients and their families, in the safest way possible,’ Ms Miller said.

‘To now be able to offer some chemotherapy treatments to eligible patients within their own homes has been a great step forward for the RCH.

‘We’re looking forward to seeing how these services can grow in the future.’