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22/09/2021

Sligo University Hospital launches unique app to help children who are anxious about surgery

Sligo University Hospital launches unique app to help children who are anxious about surgery

Dr Anne Dolan, Consultant Anaesthesiologist at Sligo University Hospital demonstrating the ‘Little Journey’ app for the hospital with Hugh Gannon from Sandyhill and Ellie Langan from Grange.

Sligo University Hospital has launched the ‘Little Journey’ virtual reality app to help young children between the ages of 3 and 12, to prepare for surgery and reduce their anxiety in advance of their hospital stay.

The ‘Little Journey’ app provides 360 degree views of all the areas the children will visit at the hospital as well as useful information about anaesthesiology tailored to the age of the child.

Dr Anne Dolan, Consultant Anaesthesiologist at Sligo University Hospital said, “Preoperative anxiety in children and parents is a very real phenomenon before undergoing general anaesthesia. As healthcare professionals we recognise the increasing impact of anxiety and the physiological negative impact it can have on the child’s and parent’s ability to cope with events surrounding the experience of anaesthesiology and surgery.

“Children may have anxiety around the clinical environment, their expectation of events, meeting unfamiliar people and even fear of pain. Parents generally accompany their child to theatre and are present with their child when the anaesthetic is first administered. Some of the parent’s anxiety comes from their fear of the unknown and the steps surrounding their role with their child at the time their child undergoes anaesthesia. By providing information through the app, which uses child-friendly animation, we can begin to prepare parents and children for surgery and ease their distress.

“The ‘Little Journey’ app was developed by Little Sparks to help change the way children experience hospitals by empowering them and giving them the information they need to reduce their anxiety in a fun, interactive format. The app helps children to familiarise themselves with the hospital and the handy checklists included will help families to prepare in advance of the hospital stay.

“Last year approximately 1,300 general anaesthetics were conducted in children at the hospital. The demand for general anaesthesia in children has increased in recent years as children may also require general anaesthesia for investigative procedures such as an MRI. We want to help alleviate any distress due to anxiety whether the child is presenting for surgery or investigative procedures.”

Grainne McCann, General Manager, Sligo University Hospital added, “The introduction of the ‘Little Journey’ app is a fantastic example of the dedication of a multidisciplinary team - which includes consultant anaesthesiologists, surgeons, theatre attendants, paediatricians, paediatric ward staff, emergency medicine colleagues, nurses and ancillary staff members in the operating theatres - working together to ensure children and their parents are able to prepare for surgery in the best possible way. The app is already in use in 16 countries and we are the first hospital in Ireland to introduce it for our patients.”

The ‘Little Journey’ app is free to download from Google Play Store or App Store and is available for use on a smartphone in 2D or can be used with a 3D virtual reality headset. The app gives children the chance to meet the animated healthcare characters who will explain what they do and what happens on the day of surgery, see some of the equipment which will be used to care for them, find out more about what to expect on the day of their procedure and includes a virtual tour of the children’s day ward, the anaesthesiology room and the recovery room at the hospital.

 

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