With a wealth of information from what happens if your child needs an X Ray to where to find departments at Walsall Manor Hospital, Paediatric Consultant Dr Hesham Abdalla has developed a free app to help young patients and their carers have a great experience.
The app was prompted by Dr Abdalla’s patient shadowing experience which is designed to give NHS staff of all levels a deeper understanding of their patients’ experience
“I was on the Paediatric Assessment Unit with a mum and her little girl when the child’s oxygen saturation levels started dipping”, explained Dr Abdalla, Paediatric Respiratory Consultant.
“The poor mother was worried but didn’t know whether she should alert the nurses, who looked busy, or what else to do. It really brought home to me how confusing and scary a hospital can be for parents and children and how it would be so much better if they knew what to expect. That’s how the idea came about for an app.
“The app is the product of a team effort across the service. We have all got our heads together, clinical and non-clinical staff, patients and carers, to develop it and make sure it contains the information that is the most useful. I also tested it on my own children who range in ages from three to 15. It’s partly because of their input that it also contains games and music as they insisted it shouldn’t be boring!”
There is a section on frequently asked questions such as “What should I bring if my child is admitted?”, “Where can I have a wash?” or “When will I go home?”. Answers to these simple but sometimes difficult to ask questions are now literally in the palms of people’s hands.
The app also has a section entitled “How do I look after my child?” that includes reputable websites offering advice and guidance on what to do if parents are concerned. There are a series of video clips such as how young children can control their asthma, what happens when a child undergoes a CT or MRI scan. These videos are for parents to show their children to ease their anxiety and help them make the most of health services.
The section of the app which gives access to music, games and confidential advice with links to Childline and various other child and adolescent wellbeing and mental health websites was co-produced with young representatives at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
The app also allows family members to phone the ward to ask about loved ones rather than wait for the hospital switchboard to redirect them to the right number. They can also give feedback via the Friends and Family test on the services they have used or the app itself.
The Trust’s Patient Experience Team took the app through a pre-launch trial with children and parents on the ward and it was very well received with comments including:
“All of it is very easy to use”
“The videos for the children to watch about things that can happen and pictures of doctors they may meet is most helpful”
“It is great that it is free to use and download on your phone”
An unintended benefit is the app also serves staff as a directory too, complete with contact and referral details for staff to use as a resource. Local GP surgeries have shown an interest in using it which will mean consistency of care across the whole healthcare system.
The app has been funded by the Trust for the first year and it is hoped that donations from the public will keep it going long term.
This is one of very few apps in the country with this functionality and the only one in the region to serve Walsall residents in this way. It is available to download from Google Play and Apple App stores by searching for Walsall Children’s Healthcare.