Portiuncula University Hospital has launched the ‘Little Journey’ virtual reality app to help children between the ages of 3 and 12, to prepare for surgery and allay their anxiety in advance of their hospital stay.
The ‘Little Journey’ app provides 360 degree views of all the areas the children will visit at the hospital as well as useful information about anaesthesiology tailored to the age of the child.
“Preoperative anxiety in children and parents is a very real phenomenon before undergoing general anaesthesia. As healthcare professionals we recognise the increasing impact of anxiety and the physiological negative impact it can have on the child’s and parent’s ability to cope with events surrounding the experience of anaesthesiology and surgery.
“Children may have anxiety around the multidisciplinary environment of theatre, their expectation of events, meeting unfamiliar people and even fear of pain. Parents/guardians can accompany their young children to theatre and be present with them during induction of anaesthesia.
"Some of the parent’s anxiety comes from their fear of the unknown and the steps surrounding their role with their child at the time their child undergoes anaesthesia. By providing information through the app, which uses child-friendly animation, we can begin to prepare parents/guardians and children for surgery and ease their distress.
“The ‘Little Journey’ app was developed to help change the way children experience hospitals by empowering them and giving them the information they need to reduce their anxiety in a fun, interactive format. The app helps children to familiarise themselves with the hospital and the handy checklists included will help families to prepare in advance of the hospital stay.
“Last year the demand for general anaesthetic increased in children due to the increase of paediatric day case surgery at the hospital. We want to help alleviate any distress due to anxiety whether the child is presenting for surgery or investigative procedures," Dr Vinod Sudhir, Consultant Anaesthesiologist at Portiuncula University Hospital, said.
“The introduction of the ‘Little Journey’ app is a fantastic example of the dedication of a multidisciplinary team - which includes theatre staff nurses, ancillary staff members in the operating theatres, paediatric unit staff, anaesthesiologists, surgeons, paediatricians and emergency medicine colleagues working together to ensure children and their parents are able to prepare for surgery in the best possible way," James Keane, Hospital Manager, added.
The ‘Little Journey’ app is free to download from Google Play Store or App Store. It can be used on a smartphone in 2D or using a 3D virtual reality headset. The app gives children the chance to meet the animated healthcare characters who will explain what they do and what happens on the day of surgery, see some of the equipment which will be used to care for them, find out more about what to expect on the day of their procedure and includes a virtual tour of the children’s day ward, the theatre room and the recovery room at Portiuncula University Hospital.