The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation is raising money to ensure there is an age-appropriate space provided for young people with cancer in hospitals across the country.
Our first project was very much at the centre of Tom’s heart. His shared care hospital was Colchester General Hospital and he was often admitted for emergency antibiotics to the oncology ward in Essex County Hospital. Having been treated on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward at University College Hospital in London, the difference was vast. Local hospitals simply are not geared up to treat teenagers and young people in age appropriate environments. These young people are no longer children but they do not fit in on an adult ward either. They need to be treated like teenagers first in an environment where they will feel comfortable.
The Tom Bowdidge Foundation took Colchester General on first. With guidance from Teenage Cancer Trust we created two rooms; one in the Out-patient department where teenagers and their families can have meetings, be alone or talk in private. The second room, the Young Adult Clinic Room, is in the Mary Barron suite where teenagers can have their treatment in private.
The Young Adults Quiet Space
This Quiet Room is a unique space within Colchester General Hospital; with comfortable seating and wall art it is a relaxing, safe and private space which be utilised in a variety of ways by young people and their families.
It can be a place where vital information can be communicated with the young person and their family, such as test results and potentailly challenging information. It can be a place to chill out whilst waiting fro appointments, instead of in busy and inappropriate adult or paediatric rooms. The room has also become a therapeutic space for one-to-one sessions with the young people who need support.
As parents who have been in this position, we wanted the room to have a feeling of calm and hope. The artwork was carefully chosen to depict the sun trying to shine through the trees, there to guide the family and young person on their cancer journey. Tom’s positive thinking was never thwarted right up until the end and there was a Latin phrase that was very close to his heart ‘Carpe Diem’ – Seize the Day. We felt this needed to appear in the room as a subtle message to fight this head on and regret nothing in life.
Clinical Room – The Mary Barron Suite
This room has a new state of the art therapeutic oncology treatment chair, which is highly adjustable and ideal for a young person is required to sit for extended periods when they receive their chemotherapy. Having this particular chair allows the young person to find comfortable positions, including lying flat which can be of benefit to both the young person and the clinical team treating them.
The size of the room allows us to provide four comfortable chairs for family and friends when visiting the young person. A new blind was fitted and decorative artwork added to two of the walls, allowing for privacy and distraction from their invasive treatment. One young cancer patient said the new rooms have made a significant difference to her experience.
The redecoration of the rooms has made an enormous difference to out young people. The quiet room in the Outpatient Department gives our young people and their families somewhere tranquil to wait for the appointments, away from the very busy general waiting room, this can be of particular comfort to young people transitioning from paediatric services and find the whole process quite dauntingLea Kirton TYA & Palliative Care CNS
Teenage and Young Adults ensuite single room
The Foundation was thrilled to be able to fund the refurbishment of a single room on the Oncology ward in Colchester General Hospital. The room was fitted with mood lighting, wall art , a Smart TV, a new blind to match the wall art and a put up bed to allow a parent or family member to stay in hospital overnight.
Nikki said “We are delighted to have been able to create these wonderful rooms at Colchester General Hospital. This was very much at the heart of Tom’s vision, to improve facilities locally that are more age appropriate in their design. We hope these rooms will now make a young cancer patient’s treatment more comfortable and private.”
It’s wonderful that we at Colchester General Hospital are now able to support the best possible care in an appropriate environment for our young people with cancer. A young patient told me recently that moving into our newly decorated designated room on West Bergholt Ward had ‘brightened’ up her day and made her smile. She has found the mood lighting relaxing and it has helped her to sleep.Lea Kirton, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Teenagers & Young Adults with Cancer
Recreation Room on T13 at University College Hospital, London
Tom was treated at UCLH in London on T12, a teenage cancer ward. Here teenagers can stay until they reach 20. They are then transferred to T13, a unit for young adults aged 20 to 25. Currently they have no space beyond their ‘bedroom’. If they are well enough or motivated enough to, they can use the space for teenagers on T12 or travel further still to the social space on the Cancer Centre. However, often neither option is appealing or practical – even a short walk downstairs can be impossible for young people during treatment – thus leaving adults isolated.
The Tom Bowdidge Foundation are thrilled to be funding a dedicated social space which will take the form of a coffee shop. Within this design, facilities will be bright and modern; with music, gaming and drinks facilities. The new space will provide a much needed escape from the monotony of the ward and a great place to meet other young people.
This comfortable and inviting space will also play an important role for visiting siblings and friends, helping to encourage visits and keep young people connected with life and friendships outside the unit; this in turn can also help ease the transition back into life post-treatment.
The official opening finally took place in March. Nikki and Richard were thrilled with the finished room. LUSHERarchitects assisted the young adults with the concept and design of the room. The bluebells are a nod to Tom and relate to the beautiful bluebell wood in West Bergholt, where Tom walked for many years. Designed to bring this patient community together, the Young Adult Living Room offers an age-appropriate environment within a hospital setting for young adults to meet each other, relax, watch a film, play games and make a hot drink. Doing such normal things during hospital based cancer treatment helps isolation and loneliness and is important for people’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
“We’d like to thank all those involved in this collaboration, it has allowed us to create this unique space, where young adults being treated for cancer at UCLH can temporarily distance themselves from medical issues and focus on being themselves.” Louise Soanes, Teenage Cancer Trust Nurse Consultant, CYP Cancer Services, UCLH.