Every year, 600,000 children undergo day-case procedures in NHS operating theatres – and up to 75 percent show signs of fear and significant anxiety. Dr Chris Evans, an anaesthetist, witnessed the impact of children feeling anxious about having surgery and the distress that followed in some cases. While exploring the issue further, he discovered that children were being given information leaflets designed for adults before their operation in the hospital he was working at. He was determined to find another way, particularly when the research clearly showed how anxiety before an operation was linked with worse physical and mental outcomes after surgery.
Through observing his nieces and nephews interacting with games on smartphones, he came up with the idea of Little Journey. By making information engaging, interactive and fun, he felt that children were more likely to understand, retain and use the information. Working with groups of children through the Young Person Advisory Groups (YPAG), healthcare professionals and parents, he began to design a virtual tour that could provide information through age tailored animations. The idea was that children could to explore the exact rooms they’d be visiting on the day of their operation through virtual reality – all from the comfort and safety of their own home – to help familiarise them with coming to hospital and reduce their anxiety.
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