Visits to the silver screen for young patients

12 September 2018

Young patients at Evelina London can escape the wards for time at the movies, thanks to the MediCinema – an incredible service run by the national charity of the same name, which is supported by donations.

Patients and their families at a screening
Patients and their families at a screening

The cinema screens the very latest releases for free and allows access to patients with wide-ranging needs, offering spaces for six wheelchairs and six beds as well as 100 seats.

Some welcome escapism 

Nine-year-old Naomi has been on Snow Leopard ward for 12 weeks after developing a chest infection. She has Down Syndrome and also suffers from breathing difficulties, meaning that she has a tracheostomy (a small plastic tube in the windpipe that forms an artificial airway) and has to be ventilated at night.

Naomi is a regular visitor to the MediCinema with her mum, Ruth.

‘It’s really good to be able to use the cinema during our hospital stay,’ says Ruth. ‘It’s a chance to get away from the ward and do something we would do if we were at home. 
We’re quite long-stay patients, so this is a really good way to help Naomi have a bit of fun and not feel hospitalised for a while.

Sociable and safe

The cinema’s manager promotes the films around the hospital with the help of a team of volunteers, who bring patients from their wards and make sure they are comfortable. The volunteers are on hand throughout the film, as well as two nursing staff in case any medical help is needed.

Emily, aged 14, is able to take her blood thinning machine into a screening with her, a device she needs as part of her treatment for hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She has been a patient at Evelina London all her life, the most recent stay being for three weeks after she suffered a huge internal bleed when her pacemaker was replaced.

When Emily’s line on the blood thinning machine was playing up, one of the nurses was able to help her.

‘Everyone at the MediCinema is very kind, especially when my line is being annoying,’ says Emily. ‘I like being able to come along because it’s a break from the wards.’

A big difference for patients

Research carried out by MediCinema has shown that the service makes a real difference to patients’ experiences of being in hospital, helping to improve wellbeing and providing a valuable shared social experience.

Vicky Sabarias works as a Patient Liaison Officer at Evelina London and brings her nieces, nine-year-old Annabelle and seven-year-old Abigail, who are both outpatients.

‘We always look forward to our weekly visits,’ says Vicky. ‘What a fabulous way to improve a patient’s stay and lift their spirits. It makes a big difference.’

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