20/02/2019 | Press releases

New app guides young patients on a “Little Journey

Young patients can now find out what it is like to have an operation at Ipswich Hospital from the comfort of their own home thanks to a new app designed to help them overcome nerves before coming in for surgery.

“Little Journey” gives children and their parents or carers the chance to prepare for surgery by taking them on a virtual tour of the children’s ward, anaesthetic room and recovery area. Available for use on a smartphone in 2D or using a 3D virtual reality headset, it gives them the chance to meet doctor and nurse characters, see some of the equipment which will be used to care for them and find out more about what to expect on the day of their procedure.

Top row, left to right, consultant anaesthetists Helen Findley and Julia Jenkins, with operating department practitioner Sharon Cable, children’s nurse Dino Bundhun and theatre assistant Ally Clarke

The app aims to reduce anxiety among the 1,050 young people who have an operation at the Heath Road site each year, as well as improving the experience which both patients and their parents have of receiving care. It has been specifically tailored to Ipswich and uses photos of the hospital to help children get familiar with the surroundings. Two different versions are available, with one aimed at younger children and the second at those aged eight and above.

Dr Helen Findley, consultant anaesthetist at the hospital, said:

We are really excited to be able to offer this fantastic app at Ipswich Hospital. It will take children and their parents on a virtual journey through our ward and theatres, explain what will happen and talk about how they may feel.

The app has been piloted in several NHS hospitals so far, with great feedback from patients and parents. We’ve also shown it to some of our young patients ahead of the official launch at Ipswich, and they were all really excited about it and felt it would help others coming in for surgery.

Previously, we used a DVD to show children what to expect. This app will really bring us up-to-date and be a much more interactive experience.

Coming into hospital can be very frightening and overwhelming for some people. There is evidence that if a child is very anxious and has a negative experience, it can contribute to longer term behavioural problems as well as shaping the way they feel about hospital for the rest of their life. We hope this app will help to counteract that by showing them that coming in for an operation can be a positive experience.

Little Journey is the brainchild of PhD student Dr Chris Evans, from University College London. It is currently being further developed so that it can send notifications to parents, such as reminders about when their child should stop eating and drinking or what to do if they fall ill just before their admission.

To download it for free, search for “Little Journey” in the App Store or Google Play. On launching the app, select East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust if you are using an iPhone or iPad, or for Android smartphones use the code IPSW1.

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