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Dr. Simon Parke talks about the impact wishes have on his young patients

Dr. Simon Parke, Consultant Paediatrician, Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital

Dr. Simon Parke, a consultant paeditrician, talks about the positive effect he's seen wishes have on his young patients.

Dr. Parke has worked with many children facing life-threatening conditions, and provides day-to-day care as they go through their treatment. He's seen the impact wishes have. He's given his expert opinion on why they're so important. 

The Need

Dr. Parke explains how life-threatening conditions cut children off from normal activities, leaving them isolated and lonely. He talks about the unpleasant treatment children must go through, meaning they miss out of precious moments in their childhood that other healthy children get to experience. 

Dr. Parke has seen first-hand the huge negative impact a diagnosis with a life-threatening condition has on a child and their family, saying:

The world can seem like a very dark, very black place for the child and their family.

How wishes help

Wishes helping during treatment...

In my experience children who go through the treatment with positivity, with things to look forward to, with things to make the experience more tolerable for them, seem to cope with their treatment better seem and spend less time in hospital

Dr. Parke told us that a wish gives "joy", "pleasure" and crucially, "something to look forward to". He believes the anticipation of the wish helps families and children get through the tough times. 

He talks about the "intolerable journey" that children living with life-threatening conditions must go through, and wishes mean that a positive experience is part of that journey.

He also spoke about the way wishes help the patient/doctor relationship, stating: "You can’t get kids to adhere to their treatment if they don’t trust you. They’ve got to trust that you’re doing your best for them. By being an enabler towards them having a wish, that helps you build that trust."

Wishes helping at the end of treatment...

It’s a signal that things are getting back to normal 

Dr. Parke told us that when a child comes to the end of treatment, it's often a time of anxiety. Medical professionals like himself try to mark the end of treatment as a celebratory time to lessen this anxiety - he told us that a wish can act as a "punctuation to the end of treatment" and a way to celebrate how strong the child has been. 

Dr. Parke also explains that wishes can become a bridge towards reintegration after treatment, he believes that wishes give children a chance to have a conversation with their friends that's not about hospital and appointments - but that's about something exciting and fun. 

Wishes helping in palliative care...

It gives a new focus to what’s happening and puts something positive in amongst negativity

Dr.Parke said: "For children and for their families in palliative care it may seem hopeless and it’s also a real time of powerlessness, they’ve lost control and there’s very little light available at all. Having a wish in that phase does lots of things. It gives a new focus to what’s happening and puts something positive in amongst negativity. It gives the child an experience which can be unique and incredibly special to them.

"It gives the family that memory as well which is really, really important. Families when they reflect back to us after children have died will often talk about the wish. Despite the situation, which could not have been worse for that family, there is a little precious memory there which enables them to have something really positive to remember the child by."