Young Health Champions make hospital services better for young people
When the Shropshire Young Health Champions were given a tour of the Princess Royal Hospital’s Women and Children’s Unit they saw a vibrant young children’s room but a plain and dull space for teenagers. From this insight a project quickly emerged for the champions to work with the staff from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust to design a new teenage room at the hospital to coincide with the merging of two inpatient paediatric units.
Young Health Champion, Livi, 14, said: “As a teenager going into hospital it’s quite scary and you feel a bit cut off because you don’t want to be out of school and you miss your friends. So we wanted to make the room as comfortable as we could. We designed artwork for the room, and the layout, and we decided what was going to go in the room. We also said that it was hard because there wasn’t a way to contact our friends, so they got Wi-Fi for the place. The staff were really helpful and lovely about it.”
Adrian Osborne, Communications Director at the Trust appreciated their involvement: “Key to the project was to work with the Young Health Champions to think about what that space should be like, everything from colour schemes to rules of the room. It’s been a useful opportunity in all sorts of different ways because young people can come with lots of great ideas and expectations.”
The project brought staff and champions together generating new ideas and new experiences. Young Health Champion, Alison, 13, said: “I helped present the teenage room idea to a board of people I’d never met. If I’d thought I would have been doing that back in December when I was in year 7 I probably would have had a panic attack.”
The Communications Director summed up what it has meant to work with YHCs: “Everyone in the Trust who has worked with the champions visibly lights up when their names are mentioned. They have been an absolute breath of fresh air, truly passionate and really creative. Our services will be better because of their involvement.”
Liam, 17, one of the Young Health Champions on the project, said: “We felt it was important for teenagers at the hospital to have their own room, not just part of the children’s unit, because if they get upset then they can go somewhere quiet and have time by themselves, and to think problems through.”
The room was officially opened in February 2015, Livi said: “We had spent months designing the room and then Princess Anne opened it so we got to meet her – which was so amazing! Health Champions is great, everybody should be a Health Champion.”