Hospital's award-winning 'calming boxes' boost child mental health
Children's ward manager Levi Swain told a Rotherham Hospital meeting the introduction of “calming boxes” had helped “soothe and ground” young patients during their hospital stay, cutting the risk of violence or aggression.
Passing examples around the meeting of Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust she said: “The children and young people create the box themselves which gives them something to engage with and distract them.”
The boxes can be then decorated and filled with items the trust purchased thanks to £1,000 funding from the Critical Care Network including calming CDs, fidget toys, cuddly toys and fizzy sweets.
One patient, a 15-year-old girl who had been admitted after suffering an overdose at home, decorated her box with words including “pretty”, “cool” and “kind”, as positive self-reminders despite her mental health deteriorating.
The activity of creating the box and having access to the objects inside helped her remain calm throughout her hospital stay.
“Patients feeling more relaxed reduces the symptoms of anxiety and low mood,” said Ms Swain, “which reduces the risk of violence and aggression – if patients are focusing on something they’re not escalating to the point they feel the need to be aggressive and violent.”
A charity bid is being pulled together to try and secure more funding for the boxes, she added.
Ms Swain has subsequently won a Cavell Nursing Star Award for her efforts, but said: “I don’t think I’ve done anything extra than I needed to – the award isn’t just for me, it’s for our entire team.”
Chief nurse Helen Dobson congratulated Ms Swain on her “huge progress” tackling young people's mental health issues and noted: “Cavell Star Awards are given to healthcare staff who shine bright and show exceptional care.”
Non-executive director Martin Temple said: “It staggers me how much a relatively small amount of money can change things so dramatically.
“The idea behind it is really, really important.”
Chairman Martin Havenhand thanked Ms Swain for her work, saying: “It’s added real value to our patients.”