Our Adventures

  • 30 Sep 2013

    Allergy Adventures to launch the Passport Pack at St Thomas'

    Posted: 30 Sep 2013

    For the last eight months I've been working with Dr Adam Fox and the allergy team at St Thomas' hospital in London on an exciting initiative, designed to make visits to the allergy clinic less daunting for children and their parents. 

    And after months of research, multiple rounds of testing and in depth discussions with medical staff, parents and children, the Allergy Adventures® Passport Pack has been given the go ahead. It will be arriving in the clinic from early November, 2013. 

    How the Passport Pack can help children with allergies
    One of the reasons for founding Allergy Adventures® was because I saw firsthand the psychological effects that allergies can have on children. They are often treated differently in school and social situations, and this can lead to low levels of self esteem. Great medical research is being done to understand and tackle the physical effects of allergy, but there's a pressing need to look at the wider effect that 'being different' has on children with allergies.

    Fortunately the medical staff at St Thomas' fully understand the need to build self esteem in children with food allergies, and have shown amazing support for the Allergy Passport and its approach. And I'm pleased to say it doesn't stop there, as we are currently working on plans to expand the Allergy Adventures® concept in the hospital next year. 

    During the research and development phase of the Allergy Passport, I've spent time with the medical team at the allergy clinic, finding out the challenges facing the doctors, as well as sitting in with parents during their visits. The objective was to create a tool that could be used at St Thomas' - and in other hospitals - to help reduce the stress and anxiety of a visit to the clinic, while simultaneously boosting the children's self esteem. That's no easy task! The result of the research and testing is the Allergy Passport.  

    More about the Allergy Passport
    The Allergy Passport is a child-friendly tool to help parents and carers explain to children what will happen on the day of their visit to the allergy clinic, thereby helping to reduce anxiety levels. The passport also helps the medical team to introduce an element of fun into the clinic and is a useful distraction during painful procedures. 

    A vital component of the passport is the stamps that the children receive in their passport for visiting each section of the clinic. When they've completed their allergy journey, they receive a reward certificate and sticker. The reward element of the Allergy Passport is particularly important because it helps children feel proud about how they've coped during the day. 

    The passport is designed to appeal to children using the 'maze' graphic, bright colours and 'allergy friends' - who also suffer from allergies - to help guide the children through the various parts of the day. 

    During testing of the passport, many parents expressed their appreciation of a product that helped them explain the process clearly to their child, which resulted in lower levels of anxiety (for both child and parent) during their time in clinic. 

    Some feedback from parents
    Parent: "This is such a fantastic idea for every child, it will make their visit to the hospital fun and an adventure, rather than an anxious time. The 'Passport' will be something we can talk about at home too. It's so important for children to have visual information they can understand and it's a good distraction tool. It's a fantastic idea!!"

    Parent: "This would definitely help me and my child understand the process when visiting the clinic. I know the 'Passport' would help me talk through it all with my child too, making it easier for them to understand. It is a great idea."

    Parent: "I think it would help my child feel 'relaxed' to know what is happening or going to happen next. She's only just turned 3, but looking at the 'maze' and poster has gained her attention already. This would definitely help me talk to her about what may happen so she understands. It is an excellent child friendly idea."

    Child: "Wow! That looks cool. Can I have it now?"

    What do you think?
    I'd be really interested in hearing your comments, and whether you think the Allergy Passport would help your child during their visit to the allergy clinic. There are plans to develop the Allergy Adventures® beyond St Thomas', so if you'd like to see it at your hospital, please get in touch.

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