Astrid Van Laere, social worker

Astrid Van Laere is a social worker in the paediatric oncology and radiotherapy departments. She prepares young patients for their radiotherapy treatment and helps parents with all kinds of practical and psychosocial questions.

Preparing children

As a social worker, Astrid has a lot of contact with the youngest patients. Before treatment starts, she explains how radiotherapy works and what will happen. "I always give this explanation tailored to the child. With a four-year-old, for example, I tell the story of Radio-Robbie, a superhero who fights the bad cancer cells together with his friends. A 16-year-old I tell much more. The explanation is followed by a tour where patients learn about the building and the radiotherapy equipment. Most importantly, the children know what to expect: this preparation makes them much calmer, meaning the treatment runs a lot smoother."

I always explain the treatment tailored to the child.

"The PARTICLE team is a collaboration that puts the child first. If I chat with a young patient and he talks a lot about his dog, for example, I pass it on to the nursing team. That way they have an entry point to engage with him."

Reassuring parents

Parents, too, often find themselves with a lot of questions. "As a social worker, I support parents by listening to their story and their needs, both practical and psychosocial. Together we go over what they need as a family. For instance, if the parents have other children and there is only a limited social network, we make sure those children are taken care of as well. What about increased child support? Is there a possibility of in-home care? What if things get tough financially? These are all questions I regularly seek answers to. In addition, radiotherapy treatment brings a lot of worries. Parents are not allowed in the bunker, so they have no idea what exactly their child is doing there. I'm there to reassure them that everything will be fine."

Last edit: 23 April 2024