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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 00:02 GMT 01:02 UK
Art helping children to heal
By Jane Elliott
Health reporter, BBC News

Large inflatable
A large inflatable adorns the atrium
Sick children need modern medicines to recover, but could art and architecture be two other essential ingredients?

Staff and patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in London, certainly think so.

Their new wing has been specially designed to incorporate a light, airy environment and striking art work.

Modern matron Zoe Wilks explained that staff felt the new 56m Octav Botnar Wing (OBW), which opened in June, has vastly improved the way they give care and reduces stress for families, leading to speedier recoveries.

Bright

"It is the most amazing building. It is so large and spacious. And we now have wonderful air conditioning, which is great, particularly in this heat.

"The wards are more spacious and brighter and it is so much more practical. Now we can take beds down in the lifts if we need to move patients, rather than having to put them on a trolley first.

"Before the space was really tight. Now there is a lot more privacy and space and this keeps things on the wards a lot calmer.

Care is not just about medicines and charts
Zoe Wilks, matron

"Florence Nightingale was the first to notice the effect of environment on recovery, finding that if people had access to light and ventilation they recovered better. "

The OBW has major facilities for day-case work, an orthopaedic ward, two operating theatres, biomedical engineering and the patient centre, replacing older facilities some dating back over 70 years.

Each of the six floors has a natural name - sky, butterfly, bumblebee, kingfisher, caterpillar and ocean - and all have striking art work either installed or waiting to be installed.

Even the lifts have not been forgotten, with mirrors outside and art installations inside.

Dr Jane Collins, the hospital's chief executive, said the work, largely charity funded, was proving very popular and effective.

"For all patients, but particularly for children, care is not just about medicines and charts, but about being treated in as friendly, efficient and calm a way as we can.

"The environment plays an important part in helping us achieve this."

Pictures

Patient Tia Druce, aged 10, from Poole, Dorset, said she had loved the new-look hospital.

"There was lots more room and there were lots of pictures and that was nice. All the butterflies and sunshine made me feel really cheerful," she said.

Her mother Rachel agreed. She said Tia had needed surgery to correct a problem with her legs bowing.

All the butterflies and sunshine made me feel really cheerful
Tia Druce, patient

They had needed to stay two weeks at the hospital and found it much improved from their last stay three years earlier.

"It was definitely more pleasant for the children. Last time Tia had this operation she was in hospital for six weeks.

"This time she only needed to stay two weeks and I think that definitely had something to do with the hospital environment.

"The wards were much more spacious and I was able to sleep beside Tia on a reclining chair, which was very comfortable.

"Last time I had to sit at her bedside until she fell asleep before then going to the parent's room as my leaving used to distress her.

"I then had to get back to her bedside before she woke up."


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