A mother's story

Listen to this Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) podcast to hear from Lisa, a parent Foundation Trust member.

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Lisa: “My name is Lisa Allera, and I’ve been involved with Great Ormond Street as a Foundation Trust member for about 18 months.

A parent Foundation Trust member is someone who gets involved in some of the operational committees that go on within the hospital and provides a parent’s perspective. So I get the opportunity to listen in to some of the ways that Great Ormond Street can be better as an experience for its patients and carers and parents; looking at all the papers that contribute to that, sitting in on the meetings and being a big part of it.

Some of the projects that I get involved with at the hospital include some of the ways in which we survey and get feedback from patients and parents, the ways in which food and hygiene can be improved. One of the most exciting projects has been working on the reception and the potential ways that that can be more welcoming or inviting for parents and carers and patients – that’s an on-going project, quite a big one.

Today, I’m working with Peter Williston, head of facilities, and we’re looking around reception to see where we’re up to in terms of going forward with that project.”

Peter: “Hello Lisa, welcome to main reception, as we walk through you’ll notice that we’ve made quite a few improvements over the course of the last 6 months or so. One of the key elements is that we’ve actually replaced the furniture, the desk, for the volunteers and for the charity, which has also enabled us to re-lay-out the seating, which has mad the seating a much more attractive option.”

Lisa: “The reception project was borne out of general feedback through research that actually it was not a very inviting experience going into reception and that there’s lots of things from the way in which staff work within that space, but also just design-wise how the space could work better.

So my team did a brainstorming session, involving lots of people in the hospital inside and outside, thinking about what would be the best possible reception space. From there a small group of us worked towards trying to achieve that and look at that within the concept of the big redesign that is going on, drawing on lots of feedback from patient s and parents but also what would be the best practise.”

Peter: "Moving on we’ve actually also refurbished the play bus, it’s been completely repainted and we’ve also added in a replacement for the TV screen that’s been broken. The children can now play with an interactive screen in the bus.”

Lisa: “It’s great, the one thing we saw throughout the whole research is that people said ‘the bus is great, we still love the bus’. People were always reluctant to talk about losing the bus because it’s a real draw – when the children come in it’s the first thing that they go to because it looks fun. They’re playing on it now; you can see them loving it.

I decided to become a Foundation Trust member because I have a son who was treated at Great Ormond Street. We felt very well looked after and we continue to work with GOSH with my son and wanted to be part of it in a wider sense. There’s a lot to improve, it is part of our lives, and we feel like we’re giving back to it too.

The more that you get involved the more you feel that your perspective adds value, it’s easy to think as a parent that you just sit there and people pay ‘lip service’ to what you say but I think that people genuinely take on board your contributions. I have felt, in everything that I have done, that people wanted me to be involved and that I was a part of it.

Can you tell me what’s happened to the citizen’s advice desk?”

Peter: “We’ve obviously installed a touch screen kiosk here for parents and carers to access information about citizen’s advice. It’s supplementary to the one that’s currently downstairs. We’re looking at trying to get that in an area closer to the main thoroughfare.

That’s another one of our aims – to use the space on the ground floor of the hospital for patient and visitor facing services.”

Lisa: “Anyone can become a foundation trust member; it helps if you have personal connection with the hospital. Anybody can sign up and be a member.

The skills that most people can bring are; good communication; excellent sense of the role of hospital in a community; any broad skills that come from a commercial environment, or even a community environment. There are lots of skills that all add to the mix.

Obviously our plan is quite ambitious, Peter, can we talk about some of the challenges on the way?”

Peter: “I think that the biggest challenge that we have is identifying a business case for making change in this area, also as a trust we’re trying to develop clinical care and so quite often funding needs to be aimed at that.”

Lisa: “I find it refreshing, but very different working within an NHS medical environment because it’s not my background – you get to understand the challenges and complexities of managing and working within this type of organisation. It’s hugely challenging, and it’s a huge credit that Great Ormond Street that it does because it’s a very complex organisation.
So Peter, what are the next steps going forward?”

Peter: “What we’ve got to do is obviously we’ve got the new building opening and we’ve got to look at the main entrance and how that is actually going to be used because that’s where people come in first. We’ve got to redesign elements of the entrance to suit the changes to the next stage of the building.”

Lisa: “When the reception is complete I think that it will be really exciting, it will be great to see the sense of achievement, but also if it makes staff feel more excited about being there and makes people feel that they can dwell there – they’re comfortable and warm and they feel that they are in the right place.”