For reasons I won’t go into now, this morning I was given a tour of the fantastic Evelina London Children’s Hospital in South London. (http://www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/)
As part of the tour we were taken into the children’s intensive care unit, the part of the hospital they care for the really really critically ill children. This was a pretty upsetting and eye opening thing for me… At points during the tour I got visibly upset, as seeing these tiny little babies strapped into the various machines was all a bit much to take as a new dad myself.
During this part of the tour we were told an awful LOT of facts about the various extremely technical procedures and treatments they provide, (most of which completely washed over me as someone with zero medical training!) but the thing that really struck me was the absolutely incredible level of care and attention they pay to every single child on the unit. It was amazing to see a dedicated nurse for every patient, and some of the little details they have added to try to make it as bearable as possible both for the patients and their parents really affected me. For example, for every child (or in most cases baby) that is treated, a small diary is provided on the day they arrive. During their time in the hospital the nurses, parents, visitors (and children themselves if they are old/well enough) are encouraged to write down their thoughts and experiences, draw pictures and do anything else they want in the little book. For some this little book is pretty much ignored, however for some this can become a really important and invaluable item. Our tour guide discussed a really sad story of a new born who was rushed to the unit, and after a few days fight unfortunately did not make it through. As a parent I cannot even imagine what the mum and dad of that little one went through, but this little book acted as a record of the few sleep deprived and grief-blurred days they had with their baby… days that would probably now be forgotten in a haze of tiredness and sadness were it not for this little diary… Of course, in the immediate aftermath they probably did not want to remember every detail, but as time passed the fact that they could remember the time they shared through the notes and pictures saved in this book meant that it became a really valuable record of their time together.
My lasting impression was just how amazing this place was, and even more so how incredible that this is all free, open to everyone on our NHS!
I will write more about the project I am working on with the Evelina in future posts, so stay tuned, and do visit the fundraising page to find out more about the work of this fab hospital… http://www.evelinalondon.nhs.uk/get-involved/fundraising/fundraising.aspx