A new Sight and Sound Centre

Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) announces plans to open a state-of-the-art centre for children with hearing and sight loss.

Set to open in 2020, the Sight and Sound Centre, supported by Premier Inn and Restaurants, will be the first dedicated medical facility for children with sight and hearing loss in the UK.

Patients with conditions that affect their ability to see and hear represent the largest outpatient group at GOSH, accounting for 25,000 patient visits each year. While the specialist care provided by the department is already excellent, current facilities do not cater for their needs.

“More than 8,000 children and young people with sight and hearing loss come to the hospital each year,” says Dr Peter Steer, GOSH’s Chief Executive. “The Sight and Sound Centre will improve care by bringing clinicians supporting these children together in one place and vastly improve the patient experience by creating an environment tailormade to these patients’ needs.”

Many patients and their families are excited to visit a bespoke centre for children and young people with sight and hearing conditions. Nine-year-old Josh is one such patient, who visits GOSH with his mum, Wendy, for treatment for his rare condition, Norrie disease, which affects his sight and hearing.

“Josh finds the current waiting room areas a bit noisy and chaotic,” says Wendy. “There don't seem to be any toys or books for visually impaired or blind children, so we take our own braille playing cards and games.”

The new Sight and Sound Centre, located just a short walk from the main hospital, will be specially designed with patients like Josh in mind.

A multisensory hospital

Artists will work with the hospital’s arts programme, GOSH Arts, on specially commissioned artwork which will be displayed throughout the building. The works, including a garden, will be designed with all the senses in mind, for children to see, touch and smell.

Children with sight and hearing loss and their families were also involved in the design briefing of this specialist facility, helping to create a welcoming environment that is fully accessible and easy to navigate.

Josh has been involved in the design of the centre. Wendy says: “Josh went to a planning day with his dad and said that he would like the chairs to be the same height for parents and children so that he could hear me and make it easier to play cards.”

Construction starts soon

Construction is due to start in the autumn of 2018 and will take 18 months, led by architects Sonnemann Toon, who have a successful track record in converting listed buildings into beautiful clinical spaces, and healthcare construction specialists Kier.

The cost of the building will be met through Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity donations, including an incredible £10 million pledge from Premier Inn and Restaurants, building on the remarkable feat of raising £7.5 million for the hospital’s new Premier Inn Clinical Building, which opened earlier this year.