The Family Coping with Child Heart Disease Project
The Family Coping with Child Heart Disease Project, (funded by HeartKids, Grants in Aid 2016) was conducted by the Australian Centre for Heart Health (ACHH) and HeartKids Support Workers at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), with local families.
The project aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the psychosocial impact of the child’s condition on the child, parents and siblings.
This was done by exploring families’ coping and parenting challenges.
The next phase of the project pulled this together as a family intervention manual which was then offered as a pilot program in the Victorian community.
Areas covered in the program included:
• the positive psychology of parenting
• adjusting to a family life with chronic illness
• strengthening family’s coping strategies
• helping your child to express feelings in early years
• tuning into siblings
• using assertiveness to advocate for yourself and your child
• empowering your child to cope
• couples working together towards improving relationships
• adjusting, accepting and healing through mindfulness
• the role of grandparents in the heart child family
The pilot program was provided to local families and found that after participating, parents’ use of problem solving coping increased. In addition, parents found the program to be relevant, lively and engaging.
HeartKids is keen to roll this program out nationally, to enable more families to access its benefits.
The research suggests that sessions be facilitated by a psychologist or mental health social worker in conjunction with HeartKids Support Workers.
Thanks to the outstanding fundraising efforts by VF Siciliano and Sons, MarketPlace and A&S Wholesale Fruit & Vegetables at the Fruit Auction in Melbourne last November, HeartKids has been able to significantly advance these plans, however we are still seeking further funding to implement the full program on a national basis.