Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Royal Manchester Children's Hospital #1

I'll say #1 as I'm sure I'll have more to say about this marvelous institution another day. I'll get onto the rest of our personal narrative later, and also details of treatment.

The Royal Manchester Children's Hospital (RMCH) is divided into two branches – Pendlebury and Booth Hall. Don't know the latter but the former dates back to 1873. (There's a plan design on the wall of the cafeteria as well as a letter of praise from Florence Nightingale). Clearly, it's been added onto as time has gone by – but it remains a warm Victorian masterpiece. (Probably would be great for urban adventurers – but maybe you should wait until it closes). I wish I knew who the architect was.

Unfortunately, it comes with all the problems of ageing Victorian buildings – vermin. Manchester now plans a new mega-complex hospital which will replace the two children's hospitals and much more. No more comment right now as I don't know much more about it. But it seems a shame.

It's a children's hospital – half creche/kindergarten/nursery school (whatever you call it)/half hospital. The medical equipment seems to get hidden behind all the toys, paintings, balloons, posters, awards for being a brave patient, TVs, Playstations, pedal-cars, dolls, stuffed animals etc etc. You name it – if you're child wasn't sick, it would be their paradise.

Older children must feel out of place. The hospital accepts upto 16th birthday. The hospital recognises that older children, or I should say young adults, have different needs and get their own room.(H. who you will meet later on – filled her room with school photos, received visits from teenage school colleagues, teachers etc). The hospital has its own school, so illness permitting education can continue including taking public examinations. Clowns visit, activities organised, music sessions etc etc.

First impressions – everyone is on first name terms. From the top consultant thro' to the student nurse thro' to the porter. The whole philosophy of the hospital is to make us at ease as much as possible. Stressed-out children are not going to be helped by stressed-out parents.

Each ward has a parents' suite consisting of three or so bedrooms, a kitchen and bathrooms. So during the four weeks we were there I would sleep in one of these and Nanda with Kezia on the ward. During the initial admission period in the hospital, both parents are allowed to stay - which in case was a godsend as Nanda doesn't speak English. Later admissions only one parent can stay - although I think if there were special circumstances, such as language, they would probably be flexible.The ward itself has a kitchen which parents can use when patients' meals aren't being served. There are also clothes-washing facilities, a playroom, a large outdoor play space (with tricycles, pedalcars etc) and of course bathroom/toilets for the patients.

Patients get three meals a day with a reasonable selection, parents make their own or use the cafeteria.

(Photo courtesy of the BBC).

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