Hospital app is pathway to reassurance for young

07 August 2019
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) has helped develop a high-tech tool to assist children who are anxious about being anesthetised for their cancer treatment.

The Children’s Services Department has worked with developers of My Little Journey app to create two additional sections specifically for a minority of children who cannot cope with radiotherapy treatment awake.Kyran Peters, aged 6, using the Day-Case Surgery pathway found it a useful preparation when he came in. He is pictured with therapeutic play manager Stephanie Fairbain.

The sections, officially called “pathways”, help take the fear away by giving children a virtual tour of their journey through Addenbrooke’s - before they have left home or their hospital bed.

Users aged 3+ or 8+ can choose a 2 or 3D virtual tour to look around the areas they will visit, such as the ward where they will stay, the play area, the room they will receive their anaesthetic, and the recovery room where they will wake up.

They can tap on age-related animated characters who explain who they are, what they do, what will happen when the patient visits, and ways children can make their own experience more pleasant, such as by bringing a favourite toy or gadget.

The pathways, for patients undergoing Linac or Radiaxact radiotherapy, come in addition to the adaptation of existing pathways for young patients visiting the hospital for reasons other than cancer. They include Addenbrooke’s Community Dental Service, Day-Case Surgery or the Paediatric Day Unit Treatment Room. There are also dedicated sections for parents and opportunities to leave feedback.

Little Journey is the brainchild of PhD student Dr Chris Evans, from University College London, and the radiotherapy pathways were developed with funding from the Eastern Academic Health Science Network.

He worked on the radiotherapy pathway with CUH therapeutic play manager Stephanie Fairbain, who with her team of play specialists give young patients a myriad of other support, through play, to make their hospital treatments easier to manage and their visits and stays happier.

Stephanie said: “This particular pathway is geared to a minority of children who cannot cope with radiotherapy awake and may be anxious about being anaesthetised.

“As health play specialists we do all in our power to reduce their levels of anxiety and with Chris’ help the new pathway is another tool to help reassure them.”