Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity has launched its Christmas campaign to help provide relaxation, learning and fun for poorly children throughout the year with a brand new multi-sensory room.

The ‘One Big Toy’ Appeal is aiming to build and equip a multi-sensory room next to the children’s cardiology and respiratory ward so that families with very poorly children can enjoy some much-needed space away from the clinical ward environment.

Multi-sensory rooms are specially designed environments to give young patients a place to completely relax or access a wide range of sensory experiences for therapy, learning or fun. 

One patient who would really benefit from the new multi-sensory room is 11-month-old cardiology patient Louie Power, from Hyde.

Louie was just six months old when he was diagnosed with an aorto-ventricular tunnel, an extremely rare heart condition where an abnormal tunnel connected to the heart allows blood to flow back to the left ventricle instead of out of the heart to the body. The condition is life-threating and Louie was referred for emergency surgery at Alder Hey, the referral centre for the treatment of congenital heart defects in North West England. Louie was then transferred back to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital for recovery and on-going care.  Following two rounds of surgery, Louie had a pacemaker fitted and is thankfully now doing really well.

Louie’s mum Laura comments: “When Louie was born he was a happy, healthy little boy who was never ill, so I was completely in shock when I learnt of his heart condition. The past six months have been incredibly stressful for Louie and my family, yet I’m so thankful that he is now doing so well with a big smile on his face.”

“Over the past month Louie has been visiting the hospital’s existing multi-sensory room, which is located in another part of the hospital, and it’s had a hugely positive impact on his development. We were worried that Louie wasn’t able to move his left-hand side, but the play specialists have got him moving, using different techniques to get his arms and legs working. He really loves playing with the sensory toys and lights in the room; they’ve improved his alertness and general sense of awareness. Sometimes Louie has been so ill that we haven’t been able to leave the ward to visit the multi-sensory room on the first floor. Providing a second multi-sensory room would make such a difference to Louie and the many other poorly children at the hospital.”

The multi-sensory room will give poorly children a place to go and chill out when they’re feeling anxious about having treatments and surgeries. It can be a place to have fun, jump around and let off some steam after feeling confined on the ward. Or it can be a place for seriously ill children and those with restricted movement to relax, stimulate the senses and take their mind off their pain.

Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital currently has one multi-sensory room, yet as one of the largest Children’s Hospital’s in the UK with over 340 beds there is a great demand for an additional room to cater for all the poorly children.

Sarah Naismith, Head of Charities at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital comments: “Sadly there are many children, just like Louie, who are simply too poorly to play with traditional toys such as train sets or dolls. That’s why this Christmas we are dedicated to fundraising for this special project, to make sure that every child in the hospital, regardless of their condition, can have a place where they can escape the clinical ward environment to relax and feel calm.

“We are so thankful to all our amazing supporters across the North West and beyond, and hope that they will fully get behind this year’s Christmas Appeal. A multi-sensory room offers so much more than relaxation, development and stimulation – it is also about having that positive experience, that special family time away from the child’s bedside. Big or small, your donation will help give our patients and their families a special experience when they’re going through a difficult time in hospital, no matter what the time of year.”

You can donate to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital’s ‘One Big Toy’ Christmas Appeal to help fund a multi-sensory room at our Children’s Hospital by visiting our website: https://secure.rmchcharity.org.uk/one-big-toy

The support of Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity means that the hospital can provide additional resources that make life easier for patients and their families who use the hospital.

The Charity has three main areas of work:

  • to provide state-of-the-art equipment for diagnosis and treatment
  • to support research projects to improve our understanding of children’s illnesses
  • to help to create an environment that’s more child-friendly
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