THE prospect of going to theatre for an operation can be a daunting one for children.
So Tairawhiti District Health’s paediatric quality and education co-ordinator Sue Cranston has come up with a solution . . . a virtual hospital tour.
Launched this week, the online tool means kids can visit from the comfort of their own computer, the emergency department or children’s ward, Planet Sunshine.
Arrows lead the visitor on a virtual tour of hospital areas such as reception, pre-op clinic, nurses station, day stay, playroom, theatre and recovery room. Click on the speaker icon, and a friendly voice explains the functions of the play specialist, anaesthetic machine and even the theatre lights.
Mrs Cranston developed the virtual tour in conjunction with design agency Flavour, to help take away some of the anxiety young patients might have.
“At Planet Sunshine, we know it can be an anxious time for children and their whanau when children have to come into hospital.
“We hope the virtual tour on our website will let everyone see in advance what might happen when a child comes to hospital. The tour is designed to be interactive and child-friendly so kids can explore for themselves about coming for an operation, an X-ray or scan or going to the emergency department.”
“When children are back at home again, they could use the virtual tour to show their family or friends from school what happened when they went to hospital. We’re hoping schools might like to use the online tour as a starting point to talk to children about going to hospital,” she says.
The concept evolved from a conference at which a speaker presented a video of a hospital tour that could be taken to schools.
“I thought a virtual tour would be really cool, except there was no funding available for it. When some funding did come up, it occurred to me it could be a project we could do. I was blown away when they accepted. It has been a lot of hard work. I’m not a film director but I wrote the script, directed and produced the tour.
“It’s very exciting. We’ve had a really positive response.”
The tour begins at www.tdh.org.nz