Child 'secret agents' to ensure hospital keeps up standards

Secret agent

Young patients at Southampton General Hospital are being armed with secret agent kits to show life on the children’s wards from their perspective.

The selected recruits, aged between seven and 11, are supplied with a briefcase full of all the tools needed to carry out their top-secret missions, including a disposable camera, hi-tech voice-recording pen, shades and a magnifying glass to inspect in detail.

Their objective is to photograph and note down anything of interest during their stay, whether that be confirming everything is up to scratch, from the play rooms, the wards and the care they have received, or pointing out any areas in need of improvement.

It is hoped the project, developed by child health matron Cath Battrick, will help Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust find out what it does well and what it could do better when looking after children in hospital.

The first secret agent recruit, ten-year-old Robbie Chaplin, is already in post, touring the G4 ward to photograph rooms, floors and staff, and make notes on his stay so far.

“This project will be a great opportunity to give some of our young patients a chance to have a bit of fun during their time in hospital while also helping us to understand what we’re doing well and what we could improve on,” Cath said.

“The idea is for our selected agents to monitor the wards in their spare time, photographing anything positive or negative and jotting down notes to explain what they have seen or found and whether it’s good or bad.”

When a secret agent’s mission is complete, they hand the camera and notepad, along with the briefcase, to their nurse, but are able to keep the rest of the goodies as a reminder of their time as a hospital agent.

Cath added: “We will look very closely at all the photos and notes given to us and share them with staff members to show what the children think of us and our service and where we need to think about making changes.”

The project, which is being funded through Southampton Hospital Charity's child health fund, has been launched as a pilot before being rolled out across all children’s wards.

Posted on Wednesday 9 December 2009