Sensory room, animal petting area, garden terraces, friendly staff on hand to assist and a warm and genuine welcome on arrival.
You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m quoting a brochure for a local spa & resort. But no…
…A couple of weeks ago I visited The Lady Cilento Hospital in Brisbane to discuss the expansion of Heartfelt Homes into its second capital city.
What I found when I got there astounded me so much (in a good way!) I felt I had to write and share with you how the Lady Cilento Hospital is in the process of revolutionising, not only Heartfelt Homes, but I believe, the healthcare system as a whole.
Let me start at the beginning.
18 months ago, my beautiful boy, Banjo, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. In a nutshell, this means that he can easily get overwhelmed in a busy environment and his neurological system can go into an ‘unresponsive’ mode when he is on overload. He can easily get over stimulated and he has difficulties self-regulating. Here are some other sensory symptoms.
As a family, we have been on a massive learning curve over the past 18 months and have implemented some regular practices within the family which help Banjo on a daily basis – these include deep breathing, massage, meditation and exercises such as planking and push-ups and yoga. All of these activities, when carried out regularly, help reset Banjo’s mind after playtime so he can switch his focus back to his reading, writing or other mind-based tasks. So many children with Sensory Processing Disorder go undiagnosed which is so sad as they get labelled as hyperactive, naughty or too rough to name a few. All they need is access to some tools which will help to reset and a space where they can be and fell calm.
The sad thing about this, is the struggle we’ve had to implement any change into Banjo’s school. We work so hard with him at home that for the 30 hours a week he’s away from us, a lot of that work is undone. Meditation has been proven to calm the brain and reduce anxiety, and our practical research has shown that 30 seconds of deep breathing after playtime resets children’s minds and helps them to focus on their lessons. This Forbes article sums the benefits of mindful meditation up perfectly.
Unfortunately, schools in my local area are not as progressive as some which has left me frustrated, but mostly sad for the kids who rely on them for emotional support when us parents aren’t around.
So with this issue very fresh and at the forefront of my mind; this brings me back to my visit.
With the expansion of Heartfelt Homes into Queensland well underway, I had meetings with the CEO of The Children’s Hospital Foundation and representatives from Lady Cilento Hospital and was given a guided tour of the new children’s ward building.
It couldn’t have been more relevant to me and what we’re currently going through with Banjo.
Gone are the traditional institutional type wards which make you desperate to get home; the developers of this new building at the Lady Cilento have dug deep to identify the needs of families and they’ve designed and built their new hospital around meeting these. Never before have I seen a public facility so committed to contributing to the overall wellness of patients and their families, regardless of their diagnosis.
Here are a few features which stood out for me.
The building has been built in a butterfly shape to ensure that all rooms have natural light. Natural light has been proven to improve sleep patterns, contribute to a better mood, and regulate human circadian rhythm (the cycle of physiological processes in humans).
The garden terraces and rooftop gardens have trees and greenery to relax amongst. Even in the middle of the city, you can be at one with nature which is proven to have relaxing qualities and make you feel happier.
Beds for the parents.
The parents have proper beds in the children’s bedrooms and moveable TVs. Rather than trying to snatch forty winks on an uncomfortable roll-away mattress, parents can get good rest and be close to their children as they sleep.
This room was the piece de resistance for me. It had a massive lava lamp and vibrating bean bags and has been designed to stimulate or calm the senses of children. I know Banjo would have been in his element in there, and it’s given me inspiration for his bedroom at home.
This designated area is for parents to bring their pets in to comfort the children and allow them a taste of home. Seriously, how cool is that?!
The nurses and staff I met were out of this world. They’re connected to the children and genuinely care about meeting all of their needs from the physiological to the emotional to the psychological. Every single person I met was warm, friendly, welcoming and couldn’t do enough for me.
So no, of course, nobody wishes their family any time in hospital, that goes without saying. But while we never know what’s around the corner, I do hope that more hospitals start to follow the example of Lady Cilento and take action to meet the emotional needs of their patients. I also hope that schools start to get on board and identify those needs and take steps to implement solutions which help a child rather than work against them and their family.
When at school, a child is in the most impressionable time of their life; it’s vital that children who have a few extra needs have these taken into account without them being made to feel different or as if they’re in trouble.
Just as I was becoming completely disillusioned with institutions and their view of children with specific needs, such as Banjo; this visit happened, and it completely restored my faith. To find a facility who recognise what children and their families need, and who are taking steps to accommodate it, is just awesome!
Well done, Lady Cilento – you are progressive and forward thinkers, and I’m looking forward to working with you soon!
Stay tuned; we will bring you more news soon on our exciting launch into Queensland.