Whipps Cross Hospital – New NHS partner

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Spread a Smile today announces its latest NHS hospital partner Whipps Cross Hospital, which is part of Barts Health NHS Trust. Spread a Smile will work closely with the play team and staff across the paediatric wards, to support seriously ill children and young people receiving treatment for a range of everyday and highly complex and specialist conditions and illnesses. These patients, along with their families are invited to join the Spread a Smile family and benefit from their services.

Spread a Smile’s mission is to bring joy and laughter to as many seriously ill children as possible in NHS hospitals, clinical settings, hospices and homes across the UK. Whipps Cross Hospital joins 28 other major and speciality NHS hospitals and three hospice partners already supported by Spread a Smile, taking the charity one step closer to its aim.

The Spread a Smile team of talented entertainers, including musicians, artists, magicians and therapy dogs, will spend quality time with patients in hospital through one-to-one visits and group sessions. Patients and their families will also be able to access virtual online events and activity sessions, including art clubs, balloon modelling, music lessons and more, enabling the charity to see and support as many people as possible. All with the aim of spreading hundreds of smiles and a lot of happiness to children undergoing treatment for serious illness and their families.

Children at Whipps Cross Hospital will be able to join special themed virtual activity days, via iPad, celebrating seasonal occasions such as Christmas, with a virtual Santa’s grotto, benefit from regular treat drops and enjoy entertainer visits scheduled throughout the year, all giving seriously ill children and their families the opportunity to join in with fun and exciting experiences that they may otherwise not have access to.

Rebecca Bremner, Play Specialist at Whipps Cross Hospital said of the partnership, “Spread a Smile has been an amazing addition to facilitating smiles and laughter to Acorn ward (and beyond!) in Whipps Cross. We take great pleasure in showing the entertainers across the ward and visiting the patients we feel are in need of a distraction and a positive experience within the sterile hospital environment. Often children and young people feel isolated and excluded from what is going on around them when it comes to their treatment. By having Spread a Smile visit it allows them to feel a connection to something that is real in front of them – talk of blood tests, results, scans etc can make a child or young person feel disconnected. But the wonder of having their card appear at the top of a pile or a favourite Disney song echoing through the halls is magical to say the least! We also had a 9-year-old boy unwell with asthma on the ward, who was very anxious at having his treatment, then Spread a Smile arrived to distract him with some magic, bubbles and lots of laughter. 

“We also find that children and young people live through experiences by media, so having the option for online activities can make our patients feel included, especially when one of our long-term patients interacted with her favourite YouTube star in a Spread a Smile event! In conclusion we thoroughly enjoy our visits from Spread a Smile. The experiences that the patients receive are not rushed and are inclusive.  Everyone feels important and worthy of something a bit special instead of everything being about illness or treatment which often comes first within a hospital environment”.

Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile Chief Executive added, “It is such a pleasure to be supporting the amazing team at Whipps Cross Hospital to spread smiles to seriously ill children and young people on the wards. We are looking forward to meeting even more patients and their families as our partnership with the hospital develops, being there to support them when they need us most.” 

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