Sarah joined the team at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital as Archie Play Leader on 1st December 2018. While play is at the Centre of what Sarah does, the support she provides for young patients and their families is far more serious. Through play Sarah provides reassurance, company and comfort for young patients helping to keep their spirits up and their worries down. She supports children of all ages from babies to teens and from long-term patients with complex needs through to day-cases who can be in and out in a matter of hours with barely enough time to play a game of snap.
Sarah takes great pride in tailoring the support she provides making it a really special and meaningful experience for every child she supports.
Sarah is a key support for the medical team on the wards too, helping to distract children while doctors and nurses carry out procedures. She is also a great source of company, advice and support for parents who appreciate seeing a friendly and familiar face on the wards. Parents regularly feedback to Sarah and to Archie how grateful they are for the guilt-free opportunities that her presence, attention and care affords them to take a break from their child’s bedside to grab a coffee or even a bit of rest for those who are staying in the Archie Family Centre.
Archie funding back in 2014 enabled NHS Grampian to employ, for the first time, a dedicated Paediatric Pain Clinical Nurse Specialist. This role is currently held by Emily Dunne, who works with young patients dealing with acute pain and/or chronic pain at RACH and through outreach clinics and video consultancy.
Acute pain is classed as pain which has occurred suddenly for example due to a broken limb or illness. This can be treated with pain relieving medications, or more invasive options such as a morphine infusion. Epidurals can also be used post-surgery, and patients can be distracted which often sees Emily working in partnership with Archie Play Leader Sarah.
When helping patients who are facing chronic pain, a more complex, long-term approach is required. Chronic pain can affect every single aspect of your life – school, play, sleep and how you get on with family. In these situations it’s not all about pain relief, it’s also psychological because pain can be quite disabling.
Part of Emily’s role is also to train nursing staff in order to increase the number of nurses who have specialist skills in pain management at RACH, which of course has a clear benefit to patients and their families.
Emily also provides support for palliative care patients. This is a vital service that makes a really important difference to children and families at the most difficult of times.
This vital role would never had existed at RACH had it not been for Archie and our highly valued supporters. Thousands of children had benefitted enormously as a result of this service.