Bringing smiles to children in hospital during the pandemic

Published on 30.04.21

Thanks to your donations and support, Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) received a Tiny Changes Covid Relief Fund grant in 2020.

Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity. Red haired toddler laughs in a hospital bed.

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity

was set up to transform the experiences of children and young people in hospital. ECHC supports children’s clinical care through funding world-class medical equipment and research. Through therapeutic hospital design, ward funding, outdoor spaces and parent beds at each bedside, they support the physical recovery and emotional wellbeing of each child and their family. Depending on their needs, children are entertained, distracted and comforted. Friendships are encouraged, worries shared, and self-esteem built, helping every young person in hospital to feel like a child first, patient second.

ECHC’s goal is to support good mental health for all children and young people in hospital. Everything they do is designed to help children feel better both physically and mentally.  This approach includes all children, from those referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) for specialist mental health support, to all young inpatients and outpatients.

The pandemic had a huge impact on children and families using the hospital.

They were expected to ‘stay safe’ at home for as long as they could, and when they did need to go in, often feeling more unwell and frightened than usual. Patients were isolated until tested for Covid and subsequent hospital visits restricted to one adult per child.

Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity arts and craft box.

In response to these necessary but challenging new measures, ECHC introduced several face-to-face and remote initiatives to reduce children’s fear and isolation and support their wellbeing. Tiny Changes funding was crucial here, especially in supporting the costs of art and craft Studio Boxes. Designed to be enjoyed by children on their own, with visitors or members of the play and nursing team, the boxes contained a range of activities like painting, sculpture, creative writing, and sketching Celtic myths.

Tiny Changes funding supported ECHC to look after young minds.

On Ward 3, a 4-year-old child explored the ‘paint and collage’ Studio Box. He was very confident painting, using brushes, sponges, paper, crayons and even fingers to explore the textures and colours that could be created.  Everything became a painting and when asked, “how was that?” this young artist replied, “very good!”

Other activities by ECHC included producing a film for children explaining the importance of PPE, delivery of emergency care packs to families shielding at home and the creation of virtual youth groups. Whilst restrictions meant physical hospital visits were limited, a ‘drop in by appointment’ service was introduced along with virtual one-to-one and group activities on the wards.

“Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity would just like to share our deepest thanks to everyone at Tiny Changes for your support at this most challenging time for children in hospital.  The funding has allowed ECHC to make a positive change to their experience in hospital, the legacy of which will last far longer than the current disruption of Covid 19 and the difficulties it is bringing to supporting children in hospital.”

Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity

A red-haired young person smiling at the camera holds an Edinburgh Children's Hospital Charity arts and crafts studio box.

As well as supporting children in Edinburgh, the funding from Tiny Changes allowed the creation of bespoke ‘Foundation Boxes’ for the Children and Young People’s Unit in Dunfermline. For the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic this was incredibly special, because even though it was a hospital environment, children could not mix with each other.

In the Neurology Ward, ECHC played with one child using a sculpture Studio Box.  From the clay, the child made a mouse (named Gerald), playing with the textures of the clay, lifting it up, balancing its weight on one hand and digging into the clay with their fingertips.  At the same time, in the bed opposite, another child painted a cat and, unusually for a cat and a mouse, they made friends with each other – socially distanced of course!

What's next

For children and young people who must spend a little, or a long time in hospital it can be a scary and uncomfortable time. The work of ECHC, means their lives are less disturbed by illness and they can be children first, patients second. Tiny Changes really value the work of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity to provide a positive healthcare experience for children and young people during the pandemic.

If you’d like to find out more about ECHC and the work that they do, you can find their website here.

To help young minds feel better, and fund more projects like this one click here to donate to Tiny Changes.

Keep in touch on social media @tinychanges and subscribe to our newsletter.

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