Starlight donations to NNUH Childrens ED – photo supplied
A sensory and self-soothe project has been launched in the Children’s Emergency Department at NNUH to provide support to children and young people with learning disabilities, autism or mental health needs.
A bespoke pack of activities and resources will be given to young patients to support with distraction, grounding techniques and sensory needs when they attend ED for emergency or urgent care. This was made possible thanks to the support of Starlight Charity and the N&N Hospitals Charity.
Fiona Springall, Children and Young People’s Learning Disability and Autism Specialist Nurse, said: “On average each month the Children’s ED sees 30 young people with mental health needs and other 15 with learning disabilities and/or autism. These resources will help us support this cohort of patients, to reduce their anxiety levels and develop their engagement while in our care.”
“For children with Autism Spectrum Condition, their ability to perceive and interact with the world around them is affected; often combined with sensory sensitivities, focus on routine and alternative means of social communication and interaction. For these young people arriving in an unfamiliar, overstimulating environment, such as the Emergency Department, can have a detrimental impact on their confidence and wellbeing.”
Each pack will contain three items, selected bespoke to each individual patient’s needs. This could vary from fidget spinners, slime, musical toys or a sensory chew.
“Children with mental health needs are often hesitant or frightened to attend hospital, feeling they are going to be judged for not having a physical health need and this fear of rejection is sadly something they commonly feel in their day-to-day lives,” said Kieron Loane, Deputy Mental Health Operational Manager.
The packs will provide the child with appropriate distraction and sensory resources, to enhance their confidence and build trust with the hospital staff and environment.
Fiona added: “Thanks to this project we hope more children can gain positive experiences when attending the hospital, which will ultimately ensure they associate attending hospital with a positive experience and outcome, setting them up for continued trust in us as a service throughout their life.
“We would like to thank the Starlight Charity who provided us some of the resources free of charge as well the Hospitals Charity who gave some of the donations they received.”