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Looking Forward: CHEO’s aftercare program

When it’s time for cancer survivors to transition to adult hospitals, the staff at CHEO knows it may be a challenge. To make this transition easier, our oncology division has developed an industry-leading aftercare program.

The transition program works to help older teens become more knowledgeable about their medical history and become more involved in their healthcare. Our patients transfer to adult care when they reach 18, or two years after the completion of therapy, whichever comes later.

“We try to give them resources and information, so they can manage their care and take responsibility for their cancer history,” says nurse practitioner Pat McCarthy who, along with Dr. Mylène Bassal, runs the aftercare program. The program and orientation process is instrumental in helping patients transition from CHEO’s family-centric approach to the patient-centric approach of an adult hospital.

Patients take part in a “bridge session” that helps guide and support them through their transition. They continue to work with the clinicians they had while at CHEO, through the Ottawa Regional Cancer Centre for adults, so that there is always continuity of care. For additional support, a social worker is available to patients, and the Successful Academic Vocational Transition Initiative (SAVTI) counselor supports the academic and vocational goals of childhood cancer survivors throughout their aftercare journey.

Patient transitions and connected care continue to be a priority at CHEO. Oncology was one of three clinics at CHEO selected to take part in a corporate transitions program – so the aftercare program will continue to improve and grow.

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