+4 votes
"Magic String" - The Best Way to Keep Children in Hospital Connected
Children will be in the treatment room by themselves during radiotherapy. To help ease separation anxiety the child holds one side of the string and the parent the other side, so they’ve still got that connection. Simple but effective.

We came across it about 10 years ago when looking for ways to make the radiotherapy experience less frightening for children. I remember seeing a picture of a child lying on a treatment couch, holding a string. It didn’t have an explanation with it but I can only imagine it was being used for the same purpose. We then ordered some bright colored string and tried it out with a young patient who struggled to be in the room by himself. As you can imagine this can be pretty scary for anyone, let alone a young child who’s not had to be separated from their parent before. The child chose the person on the other side, mum in this case, and we unraveled the string all the way across the long corridor leading up to the machine where it was safe for the parent to wait.
Because it’s string it’s easy enough to feed this underneath doors too. It’s important for the child to see before they start treatment, where the parent (or whomever they pick to hold the string) is standing so during treatment they can picture the parent standing there at the other side of the string. A child once described it as 'still holding hands'.
I am part of a large team working for the hospital, all working in various departments and looking for creative ways to make medical procedures less frightening. Everything we do is always with the child or young person in mind and very much a team effort. Something as simple as a piece of string has provided comfort to hundreds of our patients so far. Parents too, I imagine. It can’t be easy leaving your child alone in a room at a time when all you really want is to be there with them.
I've received lots of feedback from others coming up with creative ways to use the string in other settings or situations. Sometimes it really is the simple things that are most effective."

Credits: Leeds children and teenage radiotherapy and Lobke Marsden
755 views Nov 22, 2017

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