Some of my friends have been kind enough to talk about their experiences, so I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.
It is well documented in professional studies that children can suffer from anxiety and negative emotional effects when they find themselves in a strange environment like a hospital, without adequate preparation. It is vital that the healthcare system provides information that explains the child’s journey through their hospital experience and/or surgery to help them cope with the situation.
“At worst, bad experiences can permanently affect a child’s psychological development and will have a profound impact on their attitudes and interaction with future health services as children and as they grow into adults…”
“When a child is admitted to hospital for surgery this is an anxious time for the whole family. Illness and admission to hospital can cause stress for the parents and this can alter the child and family’s ability to cope.”
“Meeting the Needs of Children and Young People Undergoing Surgery through the eyes of children, young people and carers”
Here’s Tabitha and Orla with their copies of Monkey has an operation storybook
Here is Marie talking about how Monkey visits the Emergency Department activity Guide helps children, young people and families while they are waiting.
“As a Mum, I had no idea where to start when introducing the idea of Nora needing an operation, both to her and her siblings. I was also dealing with my own feelings around the whole thing! I’d already started researching, I knew I needed to get the story right, an operation is a major thing for anyone to go through after all! It was during our pre op meeting with the consultant that we were handed the monkey book – a lot of care and attention was taken by the consultant to talk directly to Nora and go through each page with her. She came home sharing the story with her twin brother and big sister, telling them the exact picnic lunch she’d asked for and showing them the book. By the end, everyone was picking their picnic and car they’d choose to drive to theatre in. Nora chose to read this book every night and the operation became an excitement, everyone wanted one!
On the actual day of her operation, Nora’s siblings were clear on what was happening and Nora arrived at hospital excited about her day. We spent the first half of the morning settling in, colouring, playing whilst meeting the nurses and consultants. So far, so good. Then the time came for Nora to head down to the operating theatre, she knew this meant it was time to pick her car and was so excited. She ran out her room to pick her car and began riding down to theatre – this is when she held out her hand to hold mine – as excited as she was, it was clear she was slightly nervous about what would happen at the end of this adventure.
This was the first point I felt Nora’s nerves, albeit a small sign. But I knew. I can’t help but think that without the monkey book she would have felt them over a much longer period of time, and been really quite anxious by the time her turn came. And I would have started feeling that awful mother’s guilt that we tend to get, and perhaps dealt with the operation in a less relaxed way.
We as a family cannot rate both the monkey book and the processes put in to place alongside it (we searched the ward for all of monkeys pics, a great game!). All the medical staff spoke exactly the same language, referenced monkey and tied it all together in to a coherent story. It helped Nora, it helped her siblings and it helped us, her parents. Huge thank you for taking the time and energy to make these changes to the children’s hospital processes and for make what is essentially a ridiculously scary thing for kids and parents alike a lot less so!!
This is Nora, aged 4, taking herself down to theatre earlier this month.
Thanks again, we really are very grateful!!”
In the days running up to our Special Needs Dentist appointment I read the book (Monkey’s Family Visit the Dentist) to Ethan and asked him to look at Monkeys teeth. He embraced the Monkey puppet and vocalised to the puppet about looking at his teeth…I’m pleased to say that this appointment was our best dentist appointment ever. We didn’t get Ethan anywhere near the dentist chair but he was happy to let the dentist come near him.”
“As you can see, the book isn’t just drawings of what will happen at the dentist, it’s real life pictures showing the shiny metal, the appliances and tubes etc. It is so good to be able to show them the chair, the other children in the chair along with Monkey and talk through the things that will happen. The book also talks children through the polishing process, an x-ray and having a tube put into your mouth to suck out any saliva….We love Monkey Wellbeing. I think this picture says it all. He’s a big hit here.”
“First we read the story called “Monkey Has a Blood Test”. This book was fantastic, it told Bethany all about how her blood is pumped around her body by her heart, and where to feel her pulse. It mentioned about why she may need to have a blood test, and showed all the different things they use to take blood. Then the book goes through the steps of having a blood test in a nice easy way for children to understand.”
“Monkey has helped Caillou feel a lot less scared of the doctor, and we feel very prepared for any future visits to the hospital.”
“I love fun resources and stories which are educational and which children can learn valuable lessons from. If my children were ever booked in for a planned hospital visit, I would definitely purchase these resources, as they certainly would eliminate much of the fear and worry whilst giving children a realistic insight into what to expect on their visit or stay, through excellent photos and explanations.”
“The books are simple and explain step by step what the child will expect when they go for an operation and I think it would put a parent’s mind at rest too.”