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‘Special teddy bears’ to help children with learning disabilities in hospital

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A specialist nurse and her colleague have introduced “special teddy bears” to help children and young patients with learning disabilities understand clinical procedures at a hospital in East Anglia. 

Fiona Springall, a children and young person’s learning disability specialist nurse at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has teamed up with a colleague, to bring “Medibears” to young patients.

“The bears help to normalise medical equipment for people” 

Fiona Springall

The bears, which are fitted with toy medical devices, are designed to help children to understand and demystify medical procedures.

The learning disability team at the trust now have five teddy bears that are fitted with devices such as hearing aids, cochlea implants, bandages and pacemakers and started using them last week.

The idea to introduce the bears came after Ms Springfield told a staff induction meeting about how she would “love” to get Medibears started at the hospital, a trust spokesman told Nursing Times.

A staff member in the induction group, Sue Phillips, then acted on this suggestion and decided to fundraise for the bears, which cost £30 each, the trust said.

To buy the bears, Ms Phillips raised £200 through a crowdfunding page, an afternoon tea and raffle.

She said: “We were hoping to fund one or two but now they have bought five and I am really pleased.”

a medibear story web 183x300

a medibear story web 183x300

Fiona Springall

Ms Springall said the bears were a “great resource” for the learning disability team. “The Medibears can be used to support patients and help them gain a greater understanding of a medical intervention they may receive,” she said.

“The bears help to normalise medical equipment for people, and help to reduce any worries they have,” she added.

Emma Chapman, children’s services matron at the trust, said: “The Medibears will support the work undertaken with children and young people with a learning disability when being prepared for specific procedures or interventions and to help them better understand what is going to happen to them.

“They are a very welcome addition to the other resources available to us and will enhance the work already being undertaken by our hospital play team and nursing teams,” she added.

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