Alder Hey – Case Study

For a child, coming to hospital can be a daunting experience, but the staff at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital ensure they are made to feel welcome and work hard to build friendships with their young patients.

Thousands of children and young people are treated within the Cardiac Unit at Alder Hey each year and for many, their treatment involves making a trip to the Cardiac ECHO Rooms where a technician will check to see how their heart is doing via a monitor.

Although patients are always greeted by a smile, the two ECHO rooms didn’t always match up to the warm welcome with their ageing décor. 4D Immersive were approached to give these spaces a new lease of life and use our immersive person centred approaches to improve the well-being and comfort of patients.

The creation

The 4D team had two spaces to work on during the installation of the immersive spaces. The two rooms were heavily used spaces that needed some refurbishment and were also often in use. It created a unique challenge for our team who worked over night during he installation to limit any impact on the hospital and their patients.

In each ECHO room, our team installed two walls of projection – one large area in front of the patient and one to the side. Pelmet lighting surrounded the room to colour wash the walls with a high quality sound system installed too.

The space is run from an iPad that is linked via a wireless network to the discrete control panel housing all the technical equipment – it gives the new immersive spaces a smart finish. The iPad controlled software means patients can be given control of the space to trigger different projections, sounds and lighting

Staff at Alder Hey kindly sent over this following feedback – many thanks to Andrea Duggan and Sue Kelly at the hospital.

“Last October, Alder Hey were delighted to welcome a unique immersive projection system within the ECHO rooms. The new system was installed by 4D Immersive and projects images on the walls within the treatment walls. This was made possible thanks to a very generous donation from the Thomas Cook Children’s Charity.
Fourteen year old Maxwell has been coming to Alder Hey since he was a baby. He is more than familiar with the cardiac ECHO rooms although this time he looks pleasantly surprised as he enters and notices the new addition to the walls.
Maxwell is joined by his mum Gillian who is equally surprised to know this is the same room they’d come to expect on arrival of their biannual review appointments. Gill explains: “Although our family have a great relationship with the team, the old treatment rooms did not enhance my son’s experience.”
Maxwell seemed impressed that he could choose which images he preferred to appear on the screen during his appointment. He explains: “When I’ve come to hospital before I’ve had to look at the television which might have had a young children’s programme on. Now using modern technology I think it looks serene and cool.”
The technology is helping with distraction which is not only important to the patients but the parents also. Mum Gillian explains: “Alongside his cardiac condition, Maxwell lives with ADHD and Asperger’s and therefore experiences personality and behavioural changes. Coming back to hospital for his check-ups can be stressful and both he and I would normally be glued to the picture being shown on the monitor. Yet with the new installation we were both distracted by the swimming fish projected onto the walls which is brilliant and allows the technicians to do their job without us looking over them.”

Sharon Clark, Senior Technician is already seeing the benefits of the equipment and says: “The appointments last as long as it takes for the team to obtain a clear image of our young patients’ hearts so if they’re nervous or uncomfortable they may be restless and understandably may be in the treatment room longer. With this piece of equipment, it’s allowing our young patients to focus on what is on the walls and before they know it the appointment is over.

“I believe the new installation has transformed the service we provide. Patients of all ages are reaping the benefits; even little babies seem mesmerised by the moving images which in turn is making the parents feels more at ease. The large number of clips and backgrounds available for the children to choose from allows their different needs to be catered for.
“We were looking after a young boy who hadn’t been able to have a scan yet as he was extremely distressed. We found out that he loved the emergency services and so the team uploaded some footage of fire engines and ambulances and he was glued to the screen. He went from being very anxious to engrossed to the screens around him. This piece of technology enabled him to undergo his first scan and helped change his experience at hospital forever.
“The technology has created a nicer atmosphere which has had a knock on effect with the team, it’s definitely helped improve the way we work. I believe all treatment areas in the future could benefit from having this kind of technology.”
With the door open, young Enfys is watching the screens from the waiting area. When asked if she wants to take a closer look she eagerly comes in and sets about choosing her background.
Enfys’ parents are delighted to see her so keen and are equally impressed with the look of the ECHO room. Her mum explains: “Enfys doesn’t mind coming to Alder Hey for appointments although this room in the past has proven difficult. Although the staff are friendly there was something about the room which made her unsettled. I know after today, she’ll be more than happy to visit the room as it’s associated with something more fun.”
Enfys adds: “I like watching the tigers and other safari animals the most. It’s like they are in the room with me.”
Nicki Rimmer, Senior Cardiac Physiologist is pleased with the reaction from the patients and adds: “The children have really taken to the new ECHO rooms and it’s nice to see the whole family more relaxed during their trips here. It’s a great piece of equipment which allows us to adopt it to different needs and ages. We’re able to create the most appropriate atmosphere for the needs of the patients. For example we look after children who are more sensitive to noise and so we’d select some nice silent images for them to focus on. With children who respond better in a noisier environment there’s a choice of sport themes or animated screens.”
Sam has complex needs and has been coming to Alder Hey all of his life. It’s the first time he has seen these rooms. Although Sam is unable to speak he is clearly taken by the under the sea animation. His mum Louise comments: “It’s a very relaxing room. Throughout that appointment Sam was focusing on the calming lights and fish seen in the aquarium scene. I can see this being beneficial for all treatment areas, a great distraction technique for all ages and needs.”