New app connecting parents to children in the hospice is a “gamechanger”

Categories: Care and Featured.

Zoe’s Place, Teeside’s hospice for babies and infants, is the first hospice in the UK to use a pioneering video and picture diary app that can keep parents updated on what their children are up to. We speak to Grants Coordinator Brian Waugh to find out more.

The vCreate app allows hospice staff to send secure pictures and videos to parents via iPads, who can then download these to keep as memories. The app can also be used to film trips out, and even for parents to ask staff any questions they may have.

The project was conceived after the hospice received funding from a local building society. “It all came from a grant that we got for IT, and we wanted to explore the limits of what we could do” Brian explains.

“People use iPads to communicate, so we thought, “what else can we do with these?” We got talking to Leo’s Neonatal, a local charity we work with in the hospitals, and they suggested we look at vCreate. Hospitals were already using it, but no hospices were.

“It’s a very safe and secure network – we had long in-depth conversations with the founder about this. Then we trialled it with a few parents and they loved it. One of them couldn’t believe he could watch his daughter while she was playing.

“It’s a way for parents to be there in real time, 24-7. They put a lot of trust in us to look after their children, and this enables them to see what they are doing. Being able to do this has been fantastic.”

The iPads are also being used for art therapy sessions. “The movement of swiping a finger on an iPad is the same movement that you make when you use a pencil, a paintbrush or a pen” Brian says. “For children who haven’t got the capability of holding a pen, it’s easier. We can then print off what they create and it’s another memory for their families.

“We also have educational games children can play. A lot of our children will probably not go to standard schools, so they can get that educational part through the iPads. We’re just beginning that process.”

Brian explains that for them this new technology has been a gamechanger. “When we saw the results we knew we needed to pursue it. It’s about getting past the barriers that are set in people’s minds about what IT is capable of and what it is or isn’t supposed to do. Hospices have to continually evolve, like businesses. We have to continually improve our services, and this is one example”

“It would be great to talk to other hospices to see what aspects of technology they’re using, or plan to use.”

So far vCreate is being used by their hospice in Middlesborough, and is being trialled at their Coventry and Liverpool sites. It is currently approved for use in more than 60 hospitals across the UK, and is mainly used in neonatal and paediatric intensive care units to help reduce separation anxiety in parents.

For more information get in touch with or visit Zoe’s Place

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