When patients start chemotherapy, the neurotherapist and a psychologist or a familiar and relational therapist meet with the parents once or twice a week and they are always available on demand. The “support partner” meets with the patients three times a week for three hours. During critical moments, meetings increase and the “support partner” is available 24/7 by phone. Doctors and health care professionals can contact Balint groups* if the team or the neuropsychiatrist requires so, in case the team is significantly overwhelmed.
If an operation is needed, the neuropsychiatric team remains available 24/7, prior to and following the operation, proposing the family, without forcing them, to meet right before and after the operation. The “support partner” maintains a discrete but close presence with the patient. The key in these moments is to be available without being invasive. Patients and their families need to know that the support is there but they need to feel free to decide whether or not to use it. After the operation, the neuropsychiatrist is present when the surgeon explains to the family the outcome of surgery. The “support partner” is present when the patient is informed of the outcome (only in the case the patient wants to).
*Balint groups are named after the psycoanalyst Michael Balint who created them. They are a group work method for doctors and health care professionals aiming at providing psychological training for the relationship with patients, “maintanance of the health care role” and promotion of well-being at work.