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Nurses helping children to live with their ‘chronic pain monsters’

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Specialist nurses in the Midlands have adopted a creative and unique approach to helping young patients cope with chronic pain via the use of arts and crafts.

Children being treated for long standing chronic pain by staff at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust have been taking part in innovative day sessions at a community centre.

“Chronic pain is often difficult to treat and can feel very confusing for children and parents”

Zoe Forster

The unique workshop was organised by the children’s pain team at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and aims to teach young patients and their families’ simple strategies to help manage pain.

Children aged between seven and 11 years of age attended the sessions with one parent, said the trust.

The children took part in a craft activity making their imaginary “pain monster” as a way of helping them express their pain.

They also took part in an exercise session, mindfulness and other practical fun activities to enable them to relax and learn calming techniques.

The parents attended throughout the day and took part in a separate session in which they discussed and shared their experiences and concerns.

The team who ran the workshop was comprised of two children’s pain specialist nurses, a physiotherapist and occupational therapist, and funded by a £5,000 award.

“The children have really enjoyed using crafts to help them take away the barriers to communicating”

Zoe Forster

Zoe Forster, children’s pain specialist nurse at the trust, said: “Chronic pain is often difficult to treat and can feel very confusing for children and parents.

“What is so good about these workshops is they teach children and their parents’ simple strategies that can help to ease pain and help the children live their life despite chronic pain,” she said.

“We’ve had positive feedback from parents and they have found it really helpful to be able to talk to other parents experiencing similar things,” said Ms Forster.

“The children have really enjoyed using crafts to help them take away the barriers to communicating about their pain,” she added.

Two workshops have taken place so far and more are planned for the future. The sessions are held at the BRITE Centre, which is a non-clinical environment.

In May 2016 the children’s chronic pain team won £5,000 in the pharmaceutical industry-funded Grünenthal Pain Awards.

The money was awarded for the development of a chronic pain workshop for children aged 7-11 years and their parents.

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Nurses helping children to live with their ‘chronic pain monsters’

Children’s Pain Workshop on 30 January 2018 at the BRITE centre. Pictured with the children are specialist nurse Sarah Roberts and therapist Daniela Taylor

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