Video guides to reduce anxiety in children visiting hospital

26 Jun 2018

The prospect of visiting hospital can be scary for people of any age, but particularly for children. But thanks to our grant of £8,760, the play team at the Royal London Hospital is helping children and parents become more relaxed by creating step-by-step video guides to help young patients understand the experience.

The play department is a service for children and young people at the Barts Health hospitals. Qualified play specialists help young patients understand what is happening, give opportunities to ask questions, and reduce misunderstandings. The team also offer general play activities and opportunities to normalise and familiarise children with the hospital environment. Over the past three years, the play department has seen a huge rise in the number of patients requiring their services, as more clinicians and families realise how important it is to prepare children for a hospital visit.

The play team realised that a large proportion of their patients’ anxiety could be reduced through home preparation. To help with this, they created six videos, which can be accessed both in and out of hospital, covering some of the most common worries that children have about hospitals.

Tara Shea, the play department's clinical lead, says, "The videos will provide an opportunity for parents to prepare children at home for hospital procedures. They will also help to identify children who need extra support before they get to the hospital."

These videos guide the child through the procedure, what they are likely to feel and how the play team can help. They even explain the little details, like where to go and how to use the lifts, so that the visit is as simple as possible. The videos cover a range of frequently asked questions about topics, including blood tests, operations and MRI scans.

Barts Health patients helped develop the scripts and even starred in the videos! The young patients provide guidance in the videos, ensuring that complex scientific procedures are simplified into language that children and young people can understand. Knowing what will happen to them and why can make them much more confident about visiting the hospital.

The videos can also help parents to identify areas that may cause particular distress, something that Tara explains can be very useful for the play department: "The videos will also help to identify any worries or anxieties at home so that families can ask for referrals before coming into hospital," she says, "This can reduce the risk of failed procedures and tests, and causing medical trauma."

The videos are available online here and in the hospitals, and include special video tours for the hospitals that offer children's services. See the Royal London Hospital tour below!


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