Facebook, as well as using the iPad for researching school work and stopping him (and us!) from getting bored. When looking for projects for Ben’s Heroes Trust to support we strongly felt this was a benefit that should be available to all children undergoing treatment for cancer. We are hoping to roll this project out to other specialist units to ensure children being treated on specialist cancer wards around the UK can maintain links with their friends at such a difficult time."
A report in 2012 by the leading children's cancer charity, CLIC Sargent, looked at the educational and social impact of a cancer diagnosis on children. In the report ‘No Child With Cancer Left Out’ they highlighted many issues associated with non-attendance at school due to their Cancer treatment. 'Many of these children are at a critical stage in their development – at a point in their primary school education where they are laying down the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy and building their emotional intelligence through friendships.' One of the proposals made based on the report findings was to encourage primary schools to help children with cancer stay in touch with classmates when they are absent from school by encouraging phone calls and letters and by maximising the use of technology.
Louisa Wright, Macmillan Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist at University College Hospital said "The iPads donated by Ben's Heroes Trust will go a long way to allowing children to communicate with family and friends with whom they've been separated by means of apps like Skype and Facebook. The play specialists can use apps like Where's Wally and Gina the Talking Giraffe to distract patients undergoing painful or long distressing procedures. In general the children can use the iPads to play games and watch TV and movies that can provide an added distraction to reduce anxiety levels and make the inpatient experience a better one, making it easier to come back each time for more treatment."
A very exciting day for us at Ben’s Heroes Trust! We launched our first project and gave 10 iPad minis to the children’s cancer ward at University College Hospital in London. The event at UCLH was supported by a visit from the fantastic Mr Marvel who entertained the children with magic tricks and Punch & Judy. His rabbit proved popular, although was followed up with a squirt of anti-bacterial gel for the children after each stroke! After the show, the children headed to the ward where they were keen to play on the iPads and show staff how to use them!
The inspiration for our iPad mini library at UCLH came from two of our Trustees, Kate and Simon, who tragically lost their son, Ben, to Cancer in 2010. Whilst undergoing his treatment, Ben found his iPad invaluable in allowing him to stay in touch with family and school friends during long hospital stays, as well as distracting him during long and often painful procedures.
Kate said "Ben was able to keep up with what was going on at school with his friends and his sister at home by using email and
Summer 2014 saw the launch of the second Ben's Heroes Trust iPad mini library, this time at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.
Just like at UCLH the children being treated on the children’s cancer ward and in the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Bristol Children’s Hospital couldn’t wait to get their hands on the iPad minis and to teach the nurses how to use them!
Julianne Oliveri from the hospital’s Grand Appeal team said, “Having the mini iPads on the ward will make such a huge difference to children and their families, who often have to spend long periods of time in the hospital."
"Having access to games, music and videos is a great distraction for the patients and will allow children to stay connected to family and friends outside the hospital walls.”
We're now working with Birmingham Children’s Hospital to launch our third iPad mini library before Christmas 2014, to allow the children being treated on the ward over the festive period to have a ‘virtual’ Christmas dinner with extended family and friends.
The fantastic new day room launched on the Piam Brown Ward at the end of November 2014. With a fresh beach theme and added technological distractions it makes the room less daunting, more comfortable and generally a much nicer place to be, which will hopefully encourage the children to socialise and be away from their bed space. With your support we donated £4,000 towards the project to sponsor a new Skype area in the room.
Kate Pye, Matron said, "The inclusion of Skype reduces the impact of isolation from their social group during the treatment period, and we have already set up monthly film and pizza nights as a result of the success of this project."
We are talking to the Alder Hey Hospital about a project there this year, and hope to identify two further project wards for 2015!
The iPad mini library was a project to help children undergoing cancer treatment to keep in touch with family and friends and also to help keep them up to date with school work and stop them getting bored during long stays in hospital. Ben’s Mum Kate found her iPad invaluable when Ben was ill and thought this should be available to all children undergoing treatment for cancer. This encouraged us to approach University College Hospital London (UCLH) to launch our first iPad mini library in September 2013.
So 6 months on we went back to the children’s cancer ward at UCLH and caught up with the one of the ward team to see if the iPad minis have made a difference to the children being treated there. This is what Emma had to say about them:
"It’s really hard to put into words how amazing the iPad minis have been for us. The iPad minis donated by Ben’s Heroes Trust have made such a difference to the families and patients of the ward. They are used every day and are an amazing resource.”
“In our side radiation rooms, the patients are radioactive, so cannot come out of their room and also see family members until their radioactivity levels have reduced. So they miss their friends and family whilst up here - and that could be for up to 4 weeks in one room. With the iPad minis they can Facebook friends but more importantly they can Skype everyone using the iPad minis, so keeping that very personal contact to help support them emotionally during their time on the ward.”
The 2012 CLIC Sargent report ‘No Child With Cancer Left Out’ highlighted to struggle children and young adults faced in maintaining friendships following a diagnosis of cancer and encouraged the use of technology to bridge this gap. It is great to see that the iPad minis, that our supporters and fundraisers have made it possible for us to donate, have been effective in doing just that!
They have even helped children who have formed new friendships with the other children on the ward:
“All the children can play the same game with each other whilst in bed. This has also been very useful when a boy was stuck in isolation in his room, but could still play Minecraft with his friends who were on the ward - so even separate rooms could not keep them off their shared Minecraft game!”
The feedback has also shown that it is not just the children who have benefited from the iPad minis: “An adolescent patient who had to stay in the ward for 3 weeks after an operation was using the family’s own tablet computer. So the ward staff at UCLH lent his Mum one of the iPad minis, so that she had something to use, do and read whilst her son recovered from his operation.”
We are so excited to hear that the iPad minis have been so well received at UCLH, and we can’t wait to roll out the next Ben’s Heroes Trust project in 2014 at Bristol Children’s Hospital to make an equally big difference there too!
We took a trip to Birmingham Children's Hospital in Dec 2014 to hand over 10 iPad minis to the ward just in time for Christmas. Hopefully this meant that some of those being treated over the festive period could at least Skype family and friends that they wouldn’t be able to see on the day.
Carol Mullins, Trusts and Foundations Senior Fundraiser at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Ben’s Heroes Trust for donating the iPad minis to our children’s cancer ward. The 10 iPad minis will certainly be enjoyed by all the children on the ward, not just at Christmas but all year round.”
Leo certainly seemed to be enjoying them!