Evelina London patients receive home from home care

Posted on Thursday 2nd February 2017
Lord Stanley Fink meets baby Noah and mum Lucy

Lord Stanley Fink meets baby Noah and his mum Lucy on Snow Leopard.

A brand new ward at Evelina London Children’s Hospital means that children who need help breathing to stay alive will be cared for in a home from home environment.

The official opening of Snow Leopard, Evelina London’s long-term ventilation unit, took place on Thursday 26 January with Lord Stanley Fink, President of Evelina London, cutting the ribbon.

The ward has six beds for children who rely on specialist equipment to help them breathe for months or years at a time. Most have a plastic tube (tracheostomy) that is inserted into their windpipe to create an artificial airway.

Snow Leopard helps to ease the move from hospital to home for children. The specialist team on Snow Leopard help to train carers and relatives how to use ventilation equipment safely to prepare them for when the child is home. It has more space, is quieter and offers more privacy to patients and families. The ward contains a playroom and a therapy room.

Before Snow Leopard opened, these patients stayed on general wards for very sick children at Evelina London. The new unit has freed up beds on these wards so more children can be treated.

Lucy Helling and Thomas Madden’s nine-month-old son Noah was born with fluid on the brain and chronic lung disease. He has been cared for at Evelina London since he was six weeks old, initially on a general ward and now on Snow Leopard.

Lucy, from Medway in Kent, said: “It’s so different over here. One of the nicest things is that it’s quiet so we can hear ourselves think. There is more personal space here compared to the ward Noah was on before so we can be a private family unit when we want to be. There is enough room to put a mat on the floor and play together, and the whole family can visit and not be in the way. At Snow Leopard there is a real feeling of home.

“The general ward was much busier so staff had less time to explain things to us. Since we have been on Snow Leopard they have spent time teaching us about Noah’s needs, his routine and equipment, which is helping to prepare us to take him home.

Lord Fink, an ongoing supporter of the hospital, spoke at the event and explained how he had been reunited with Archie Whitby, aged five, on Snow Leopard after meeting him for the first time five years ago on the high dependency unit (HDU).

He said: “When I first met Archie’s mum Gemma she was worried that he would pick up infections on HDU. He’s on Snow Leopard for a sleep study and the environment is not like that now. It was remarkable to see Archie again – he’s a very happy child and doing well, all thanks to Evelina London.”

Snow Leopard has been part funded by £1 million of donations from the Evelina Children’s Fund, thanks to the contributions of thousands of supporters.

Marian Ridley, Director of Evelina London, said: “The number of children on long-term ventilation is increasing so we have plans to expand the service further. We want to add three sleep study beds and two neuro-rehabilitation cubicles. This will be partly funded by the LIBOR funding from the proceeds of bank fines but we will still need the support of our donors in order to achieve this and help even more young patients in future.

“It was wonderful to see so many supporters, patients and staff at the launch event. Children who rely on ventilation can’t go home until their needs are addressed which means they can stay here for several months. We wanted to create Snow Leopard to make a home for these patients, where they can develop and have fun like any other child. We are so grateful to our supporters as without public donations this would not have been possible.”