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Innovative scheme to let young patients have their say

Children using West Suffolk Hospital have been given the chance to feedback views on their care through an innovative project which will shape the way young patients across the country are surveyed in the future.

The pilot scheme gave children aged between four and 16 the chance to answer eight simple questions about their stay in hospital using a range of tools and equipment designed to appeal to various age groups.

Those taking part could use microphones, voice recorders and internet surveys, while younger children were invited to chat to puppets, draw pictures or use faces showing a range of expressions to describe their feelings. The patients were also surveyed in three different settings – A&E, outpatients and the Children’s Assessment Unit – to see if this had any impact on their preferred method of communication.

The five-month project was made possible thanks to £2,000 in funding, which was awarded to the trust by NHS East of England for children’s urgent care initiatives. Once it finishes at the end of March, the results will be evaluated in detail and presented at a national conference before being used to shape the way young people are approached for their views in the future.

“The aim of this innovative project was to find out the best ways to engage with children of different ages so that they can feel comfortable and relaxed when giving us their thoughts and opinions,” said Dr Katherine Piccinelli, consultant paediatrician.

“The initial results have shown us that patients choose to share information in different ways depending on where in the hospital they are receiving their treatment.

“We now plan to look in more detail at these findings so that we can identify patterns and make recommendations to our NHS colleagues from across the country to help them tailor their communication with children more effectively. In the longer term, our aim is to get a clear understanding of the best way to approach young people in the future so that they can have their say on the care we provide while helping us improve our services still further.”

The hospital will now explore a series of recommendations made as a result of the study to improve engagement with children and young people. This includes organising regular participation sessions and providing extra information about completing a survey in discharge packs.

The survey has already been added to the children’s section of the hospital’s website so that young patients can continue to feedback their views.

Last updated: 16 May 2011 13:02:29.780

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