Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Donating toys and gifts to children in hospital

This was written by someone I know who is a doctor. I run a charity for seriously ill children and can grant most wishes for young cute kids with cancer and provide 10 different holidays but it's much harder for other conditions!

Last year I worked in a children's hospital at Christmas time, and there were so many presents donated, mostly from corporate donors. The entire large meeting room was taken over with gifts to sort. There were hundreds too many presents, so some were leftover for birthdays and other occasions. We still had boxes full of Lego packs in June. 
This Christmas I'm working in child and adolescent mental health, still in a hospital ward. We have had no presents donated and I don't imagine we're going to. Our patients will have one present each, chosen by the therapy team, paid for out of the ward's budget - scrimped and saved from the budget that is meant to cover food, activities, and other expenses. 
If your company, or RAG society, or someone you know is thinking of donating gifts to the poorly children in hospital this Christmas, ask them to donate them to the poorly children in the mental health hospitals instead. They're not as cute and photogenic and good for corporate image, but they're less likely than a sick kid in a medical hospital to have loving family showering them with gifts. Any gifts to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) would be appreciated, both by the young people, and by the staff trying to stretch the budgets to give the patients a nice time. 
It would be lovely if the world could start to address the stigma of mental health, and the disparity of only caring about children with physical problems rather than also those with mental problems.
EDIT: This is the link to the list of CAMHS wards in alphabetical order. They aren't all NHS, but even the private ones will have lots of NHS patients because of CAMHS underfunding and bed crisis. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/qualityimprovement/ccqiprojects/childandadolescent/inpatientcamhsqnic/membersdirectory.aspx?theme=mobile
This link shows you CAMHS units on a map, by region, but doesn't seem to work from a mobile http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/workinpsychiatry/qualityimprovement/ccqiprojects/childandadolescent/inpatientcamhsqnic/mappingofcamhsunits.aspx
Good generic presents include things for an older child or teenager: arts and crafts things, colouring books, cookery things (my patients love cooking and baking!), remote control cars and helicopters, nail varnish, age-appropriate DVDs, nice smellies. Nothing sharp or that could easily break. 
Corporate or larger gifts for a CAMHS ward would include games consoles, sports equipment, cooking equipment (smoothie maker?!), a TV or radio - but best to consult with the ward you're donating to.
Cards would also go down well, even if it just says eg "to young people and staff at [hospital], seasons greetings"

Sent from my iPhone

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