Kelly donates bags of calm and a weighted blanket
We love to celebrate and shout about good practice where we find it, and this is great story! It was the coming together of local South Glos mum Kelly who is determined to spread autism awareness and a Nurse Matron Sarah Tosh, who is equally determined to improve the experiences in accessing health care for children with additional needs.
It all began when Kelly had to take her boy Rowan to Yate Minor Injuries following an accident whilst playing football. Thankfully all was well, but Kelly found as so many parents of Special Educational Needs children do, that the experience was extremely challenging for her child. The waiting room was busy, noisy and confusing, the lighting harsh, and as always waiting was very difficult and then the medical checkup following upsetting and frightening for Rowan. There wasn't much there to cater for Rowan's needs or to help keep him as calm as possible.
Kelly struck up a conversation about this with Nurse Matron Sarah Tosh and soon found that Sarah has a great understanding of Autism as she has a nephew on the spectrum. The pair agreed there needed to be more available for children like Rowan and a greater awareness amongst staff. Sarah said "It can be hard when children with additional needs come to us as we aren't always aware of their needs. This is why it is a great idea for parents to carry small cards about their child's needs with some info about what triggers, fears or anxieties they have. Also what calms them, as all autistic children are individual and unique. We may need to know if the child has a very high pain threshold for example. If we know these things we can offer our quiet room for waiting and try to see them as soon as is possible to reduce waiting times and their anxiety".
Kelly has donated bags of calm and a weighted blanket that she hand crafted in beautiful bright fabric to Yate Minor Injuries to help calm children whilst they wait and go through procedures. Her bags of calm contain ear defenders and lots of brightly coloured fidget and sensory fiddle toys, squidy toys in various textures to meet the sensory needs of autistic children.
Sarah, who also works as a Sister in A&E North Bristol wants to roll this out and work with colleagues in other areas, increasing awareness and replicating the bags and blankets in other locations. Sarah is also working on an article for "Emergency Nurse" magazine to share this approach and spread awareness.
Kelly is continuing to do her bit, she jokes "I will stop shouting about it (autism) when everyone knows about it". When asked how she felt about what has come out of her minor injuries encounter with Nurse Matron Tosh she said "It is lovely, it makes me feel...well there are no words to say...with all the pressure that medical staff are under with their jobs this is going above and beyond"
We are certainly going to put together our cards for such eventualities with key information about our children as Nurse Matron Tosh suggests. Should your child have health complications where hospital visits and stays are frequent, you may wish to consider completing a hospital passport about your child's needs. Details of Hospital Passports can be found here.