Transforming children’s experiences of hospital through play

12 September 2018

Thanks to your support, young patients at Evelina London now have a mobile multi-sensory unit.

The new mobile multi-sensory unit
The new mobile multi-sensory unit

This fantastic piece of kit can be wheeled to children’s beds when they’re not able to leave them to provide a more stimulating environment. The unit can be used by any child, but it is specially designed for those with special needs.

Providing for all

Children with conditions affecting their brains or nervous systems will sometimes have developmental delays. They may not be fully able to move or speak, so having equipment which appeals directly to them can make a huge difference. 

The unit is brightly lit with constantly changing colours, reflected by mirrors onto the surrounding walls. Children can explore its various elements of different shapes and textures, or become mesmerised by glowing bubbles whizzing around in front of their eyes. 

The idea is to transform what might be stressful or boring surroundings into a relaxing, empowering environment.

Having playtime, no matter what

Julie Ainsworth is senior play specialist on Savannah Ward. She works to provide our young patients with fun and familiar activities, helping to reduce anxiety and aid their recovery.

‘Children learn through play; it’s a normal part of child development and what their world is all about,’ she says. ‘Some children on the neuro ward can only achieve little goals, even when it comes to play.

‘If you take these children things that they can access, it makes such a difference. When we bring the sensory unit to the bed, their parents’ faces beam. It’s nice to see something that’s going to give them a little bit of enjoyment.

‘To the children who are using it and to their parents, it’s priceless. You can’t put a value on it.’

Building the best service

Julie has worked at Evelina London for almost 35 years. With the help of donations, she has been a big part of building up the resources that help normalise the environment for young patients.

‘Things like this, these toys, are the tools of our trade as play specialists,’ says Julie. ‘Without normalising the environment, we can’t get through to the children.

‘We’ve built the tools in the service up, so we can provide the expertise behind them, to make the child’s stay in hospital as secure and non-scary as possible.

‘Without the donations we get, we wouldn’t be able to do this.’

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