The end (POC) and a beginning?
Updated: Feb 5, 2019
We have just finished the interviews after the students had experienced the technology. We spoke to all the participants in the project the student patients, their caregivers and their teachers. It has been so very rewarding, and we are hugely encouraged. Given that the project’s main aim was to mitigate the isolation of these adolescents and to foster social inclusion, we were very interested to see if this had been achieved.
The teachers were very enthusiastic. I had wondered if they would consider the project just one more thing to think about, but this was not so at all. They could all see great potential in the idea. One said it had been a privilege to be part of the project and all said they would definitely do it again if asked. Cameras were situated, at each student’s request, in classrooms, an art room, a senior chemistry class and a private coaching school. Teachers found the camera unobtrusive and soon ignored by the rest of the class once they understood what it was about. They felt their classes responded warmly to the unseen visitor and noted it often set off a reconnection between the patient and their mates.
Several of the parents backed this up and noticed friends and acquaintances in the school would text or start visiting their son/daughter again. Parents were delighted with the project, and very aware of how valuable it could be if offered to all kids challenged with the social exclusion a long term illness brings.
The students themselves gave us great feedback. Though one of them felt overwhelmed by the realisation she was a long way behind her chemistry class, she was very pleased to be back in her school setting, seeing what was going on and being part of normality again. Another young woman had chosen to be in a private coaching situation where the students sit at individual computers and follow an individualised programme. This did not seem a good choice, but she was adamant, explaining her decision by saying she was too scared to go back to school even in a virtual form. In fact, it was a great choice because when interviewed this time she was thrilled with herself. She had used the camera a few times and through the experience discovered she really did want to return to school where her peers were. This was already accomplished, and she will extend her hours this coming term. Her experience suggests the technology would be a good half way house for kids who, for all sorts of reasons, cannot face school and need to restore their confidence in the school environment.
Another young man was very excited to be part of the experiment, imagining himself as a robot from outer space or something. He suffered a relapse and became very ill a short time afterwards and had to return to hospital. At his earlier interview he had spoken of his great love for his two dogs and how much he missed them. Being so ill, he had no energy or motivation for schoolwork, so he wanted the camera removed from the classroom and placed at his home where he could watch his dogs play. Big dollops of grace again!!
We now have the evidence we needed to go ahead with the next stage. All the students told us the technology had helped them to feel part of their peer group again and were keen it be offered to students as soon after their diagnosis and treatment as possible. The final report will now be written and published soon. There is no doubt we have proved the idea behind the Patience Project is a very good one, with few downsides. The next step is to try and find sponsors to fund and promote the project. To this end, Ben is now putting together a Board of Trustees who will progress the PP into the next phase. I think Liam would be very pleased with us all.