Tackling the fear of the unknown for hospital visits

The prospect of a hospital visit can be daunting for many people, young and old. For patients with a learning disability or autism being familiar with the environment, understanding what will happen and who they will meet can be the difference between a calm, relaxed experience and one filled with fear, anxiety and difficulties.
In answer to the need for a better communication tool for these patients, a collaborative project was established thanks to joint funding from Royal Cornwall Hospitals Charity, Mencap and Cornwall Downs Syndrome Support Group to produce ‘Going to Hospital’ – an accessible publication which aims to help children and young people with additional needs to know what they might expect to see when visiting hospital for an appointment or when being admitted for a procedure.

Driven by their passion to support children and young people to be heard in the clinical setting, co-authors, Jane Rees, Manager of the Learning Disability and Autism Liaison Team at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Angie Emrys-Jones Publications Lead of Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group explain the importance of the publication,

“From RCHT’s perspective communication is one of the biggest obstacles patients with a learning disability face when coming to hospital, so we have developed a tool that patients, families and staff could use to try to break down these barriers.

This book can be used prior to admissions or appointments to reduce anxiety and allow time to process what may happen when they attend and allow them to ask questions using the book in their own time.

Makaton is such a fantastic communication aid, and if the health care staff can use the signs and symbols within the book to build relationships with the patients this can only be a positive move forward,” said Jane.

“We are very excited about the potential reach and impact of this simple but so useful book and download that really will improve health outcomes for so many who are apprehensive about a hospital visit or procedure,” added Angie Emrys-Jones, Lead of Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group.

The resource has already received outstanding feedback and will soon be available nationwide for all NHS Trusts further spreading the impact of the project.

One parent commented,

“Having a copy of the ‘Going to Hospital book helped prepare our daughter for a planned dental procedure under general anaesthetic. She is a Makaton user, so being able to download all the signs and symbols we needed from one place was amazing. We used the now and next board throughout our hospital visit which reduced all of our anxiety and made the whole experience much less stressful.”

Cornwall patients not yet known to the Learning Disability Nursing Team at RCHT can request a copy directly for free and appointment letters will soon host a QR code of the book, meaning that it can be instantly downloaded directly onto a phone or device to be viewed at home.

The booklet is also available in digital format hosted on the RCHT website here https://www.royalcornwall.nhs.uk/services/safeguarding-services/

‘Going to Hospital’ is the 5th Book in the Looking Up Series, a collaboration between Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and the Cornwall Down’s Syndrome Support Group charity.

Added on 5 August 2020, in Charity - RCHT Charity / Where Your Money Goes

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