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Young patients help design Waikato Hospital’s youth lounge

18 December 2012

Young oncology patients help design Waikato Hospital’s first youth lounge

Waikato Hospital’s refurbished Ward M5 haematology and oncology now boasts the hospital’s first ‘hang-out’ space designed specifically for youth.

The room, dubbed ‘Youth Pad’, was officially opened by past oncology patient Gemma Nixon on Friday (14 December). Gemma is one of many young people undergoing cancer treatment in the Midland region who was heavily involved in naming and designing Youth Pad.

After receiving approval for the space about six months ago, clinical nurse specialist Ellyn Proffit continually sought the ideas and opinions of her patients, who she refers to as her “bosses”, regarding how the space should end up.

Ellyn has dreamed of a youth-specific space for patients for many years, and saw the hospital’s recent renovations as prime opportunity to bring this to fruition.

“The Ministry of Health encourages having youth friendly areas – for me, that held kudos to get this project going. There are a lot of youth-friendly health professionals in the area and they have been a big help in getting Youth Pad on its feet,” Ellyn said.

Gemma, who was in and out of the oncology ward for about a year, feels privileged to have been involved in the design of a space that will benefit countless youth during a difficult time.

“Ellyn did a lot of consulting with us young people. She came to me at one point and showed me all the ideas she had. She checked in with us all about what we’d like the room to be used for,” Gemma said.

“To me it’s a good place to get out of your room, and take people with you. A lot of the time, as a young person, you get lots of people visiting at once. Now youth won’t have to take chairs from all over the ward like we used to!” she laughs.

The inspiration for Youth Pad came largely from Teenage Cancer Trust, a UK-based organisation similar to Canteen.

“I went on their website and got inspiration from their different youth lounges and bedrooms overseas,” Ellyn said.

“Sometimes my bosses are here for up to four weeks. This is a space where they can forget they are in hospital for a bit.”

A bright green feature wall brightens the room and draws attention to the tasteful couches, furnishings and television; all donated by local companies.

“Ellyn’s passion for this space was a driving force towards our contribution,” said Cambridge Lions Club president Peter Knox, donator of the furnishings for Youth Pad.

“We hope that this can be a place where all young cancer patients and their friends feel relaxed. The hospital is not always an easy place to stay. Everyone needs a place to chill out,” he said.

The name Youth Pad is a combination of suggestions “The Pad” and “Youth Zone” put forward by two patients. The logo is laid out to reflect the ‘iPad’ and ‘iPod’ range which is “popular among youth.”

Ellyn has high hopes for the space to become increasingly techno-friendly in 2013.

“We’re looking at getting a Wii, computer access and Sky,” she said.

“Young people need their own space. They aren’t little children and they aren’t adults. They have their own needs. My bosses sometimes won’t ever run into another boss, so it can feel isolating; like you’re the only young person doing the cancer journey. Now we can get them mingling together if there is more than one youth in the ward.”

Waikato Hospital and the young people of the Midland Region would like to thank the sponsors of Youth Pad:

• The Cambridge Lions Club – furnishings
• CanTeen Waikato - couches and television
• Lori Finn - art work
• Kurei Poe and Sammy Hegotule and the late Anson Taumaoe – inspiration for the artwork
• Darreyn Owen and Annie Hamilton - feature wall
• Dane Ladbrook – Next Level Fitness - pot plant
• Anonymous donors

About Waikato District Health Board and Health Waikato:

Waikato DHB is responsible for planning, funding and providing quality health and disability support services for the 372,865 people living in the Waikato DHB region. It has an annual turnover of $1.2 billion and employs more than 6000 people.

Health Waikato is the DHB’s main provider of hospital and health services with an annual budget of more than $701 million and 5238 staff. It has six groups across five hospital sites, three primary birthing units, two continuing care facilities and 20 community bases offering a comprehensive range of primary, secondary and tertiary health services.

A wide range of independent providers deliver other Waikato DHB-funded health services - including primary health, pharmacies and community laboratories.


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