A million pound fundraising drive has been launched to overhaul the children’s ward at the Royal Preston Hospital.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity has launched its first-ever Children’s Appeal to completely re-invent children’s out-patients and in-patients, which together treat 10,000 young people annually aged from one day to 19 years.
Among the items it will pay for are a seaside-themed decorative makeover, virtual sky ceiling panels which will fade from daytime sunny blue to nights of twinkling stars and air conditioning to ensure treatment areas stay comfortable whatever the weather.
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Every patient bed will also have its own reclining chair so that at least one parent can remain at their child’s bedside throughout the night.
There will be new lifts and hoists to make looking after very sick and disabled children easier for both staff and parents and a new suite to support young people, who may be suffering from mental health problems.
The money will also fund new play equipment, such as games consoles for older children and teenagers, who will now be put on wards together, and stimulating, interactive toys for younger patients, including sensory play trolleys that can be wheeled to patients’ bays.
Head of charities Paula Wilson said: “We really hope the public will get behind us on this appeal, which will completely change the way children’s out-patients and in-patients look and feel.
“It is something we and our paediatric clinical colleagues have wanted to do for a long time. Our aim is to make coming to hospital less scary and there are good scientific reasons for this.”
Divisional nursing director for children Jo Connolly said: “There is a lot of documented research showing that patients of all ages respond better to treatment in environments in which they feel less stressed and more relaxed.
“Currently our set-up is very traditional. Parents bringing their children to the hospital now for treatment, who were maybe once child patients themselves, probably won’t feel that too much has changed – at least in terms of its look – since their day. We want to bring about a transformation so that the whole of our children areas becomes a healing environment.”
It is an ambition that is also set to directly benefit parents too. Paula said: “Staff and patients chose a seaside theme as when you ask adults and children to think of somewhere that makes them happy and relaxed, it’s most commonly a favourite holiday spot featuring the sea.
“As there is no more stressful situation than having a child in hospital, a parents’ break-out zone, decorated to the same theme, is also part of our shopping list. We want to create a well-equipped kitchenette area for them to make drinks and food where they can spend time processing their own thoughts or mix with and get support from other parents going through a similar ordeal.”
While hospital stays are short for some young patients, for others, they can be much longer. Khadijah Munshi’s daughter, Afiyah, has spent all but six short weeks of her life in hospital since her birth in November 2019.
Khadijah said: “Afiyah was born with multiple abnormalities. She has an undiagnosed condition that causes her to stop breathing. She cannot see and is partially deaf and she also struggles to regulate her temperature.
“The hospital has been like a second home to us, so all the changes funded by the appeal will make a world of difference. We can’t wait to see the improvements.”
To watch the Children’s Appeal video, become involved or make a donation visit www.lthcharity.org.uk/childrensappeal