The Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) is 22 years old. Set up in response to ongoing problems following the Chernobyl disaster, it is creating a modern, unified system of children’s palliative care throughout Belarus based on the UK model of hospice care at home.
BCH cares for patients from 0 to 24 years of age with chronic and terminal conditions. Head doctor, Pavel Burykin, says that there is no single recognised method for counting the number of children that need palliative care. However, BCH has been creating its own register of such children in Belarus using its own methods that have taken into account UK and Polish experience. The register not only records numbers of children, but details of their care and care providers. The aim is to ensure that every single child and their family in Belarus who are in need of palliative care receive it.
‘We estimate that there are three to five thousand children in the country who need palliative care,’ says Dr Burykin.
In June, BCH’s new children’s palliative care centre in the Minsk suburbs is being officially opened. It will continue to emphasise care at home for its young patients, but for those who need in-patient or respite care there will be ten individual bedrooms with all mod cons plus accommodation for parents who wish to remain close to their child. There will be a modern and welcoming day centre for those who live near enough to make the journey in BCH’s specially adapted minibuses and a completely new (for Belarus) programme of physiotherapy to help children receiving palliative care to regain or maintain the use of their weakening limbs and to improve posture, digestion and so on. The new centre will help BCH to extend its care programmes to many more children than it can from its current cramped premises and to mastermind children’s palliative care all over the country.