Joining the Dots – connecting voices for child-friendly healthcare in hospital

A consultation to improve the experience of children in hospitals

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office and the Children’s Hospital Group Board have come together with the three children’s hospitals; Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin; Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght Hospital to design and carry out a consultation process to capture the views of children, young people, their parents and hospital staff.

Joining the Dots is an exciting opportunity to hear, for the first time, from children who are in hospital and for them to have their say on:

• What is working well for children and young people across the three children’s hospitals
• What is working less well
• What changes, if they can be made, could help to improve children and young people’s experiences in hospital

Parents and hospital staff are also being invited to take part giving their perspective on the treatment and care of children and young people in hospitals.

This process began on 3rd July and will run until 25th August 2017. A report about the results of Joining the Dots will be ready later this year and it will help inform a better experience for children and young people while they are in hospital. It will also help with planning and designing paediatric services for the new children’s hospital and two paediatric outpatients and urgent care centres at Connolly and Tallaght Hospitals.

As of the 11th August, the mid-way point of the process, 1,710 surveys had been completed by children, young people and parents, as well as management and staff in the three children’s hospitals. The surveys were conducted in Inpatient and Outpatient Departments as well as Emergency Departments. Some of the feedback captured to date acknowledges the staff in the hospitals for their professional and friendly manner that the children and parents are saying helps their experience and makes their hospital stay a lot less stressful. There has also been some feedback highlighting changes and facilities that they feel would add to children and young people’s experiences.

“Children’s views and opinions should be taken into consideration in all decisions affecting them. This is especially true of children who are in hospital and who are going through a very difficult time”, according to Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children.

“Volunteers from ‘Children in Hospital Ireland*’ will support the children’s hospitals; and using a specially designed, child-friendly questionnaire, will ask young people questions about how staff speak to them, what information they are given, how things are explained, and what they would like to see improved. Separate questionnaires have been designed for parents, staff and management.

“The Children’s Hospital Group Board is committed to ensuring that children’s voices are heard and taken into account at Board level and is delighted to work with the Ombudsman for Children’s Office to ensure that this happens in a meaningful way. Joining the Dots will bring together the voices of children, their parents and hospital staff in a new way that will hopefully lead to improved experiences for everyone involved now and in the future as we plan services for the new children’s hospital”, added Eilísh Hardiman, Children’s Hospital Group CEO.

The Directors of Nursing from the three children’s hospitals welcomed this initiative saying ‘Children, young people, their parents and staff in the hospitals will have an opportunity to express their views as services users and employees. Their views will assist us in identifying, highlighting and sharing existing good practices across the three hospitals. It will also identify areas for improvement that we can focus on recognising and strengthening respect for the rights of the child in hospital’.

For further information please contact:
Aoife Carragher Sinead McGovern
Communications Manager Q4PR/Children’s Hospital Group
Office of the Ombudsman for Children
Tel 01 8656806/ 087 1484173 Tel: 01 4751444/087 6411725
Notes to Editor
*Children in Hospital Ireland (CHI)
At the heart of CHI’s work is its play service which is now available to children in hospitals throughout Ireland. CHI is the only charity managing such a voluntary service in Irish hospitals. By providing engaging and supportive play in wards, playrooms, emergency departments and outpatient departments, CHI volunteers nurture curiosity and creativity and provide distraction from the stress of being in hospital.