This ward has 13 beds, all of which are cubicles, and is for children with cancer and leukaemia. The department provides a comprehensive service for the diagnosis and management of childhood leukaemia and solid tumours.
Depending on their diagnosis and treatment plan, children either have all their treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) or their care is split between GOSH and their local ‘shared care’ hospital. This second option means that children do not have to spend months in hospital when they could be at home.
Who you will meet
Children on Elephant Ward are cared for by a large multi-disciplinary team which includes are our highly qualified nurses and clinical nurse specialists, haematology consultants, oncology consultants, physiotherapists, pharmacists, healthcare assistants, play specialists and housekeeping staff.
GOSH is also a teaching facility so you will see student nurses and doctors completing their training, but they will be supervised at all times by a qualified member of staff.
The following members of staff will be available to help you during your stay on the ward:
- Matron: Mary Foo-Caballero
- Ward Manager: Eleanor O’toole
- Housekeeper: Maria Gomez Sanchez and Maria Cintulova
- Play Specialist: Jennie Prentice
- Ward Sister: Helen O'Toole
Conditions we treat
Some of the conditions and treatments on Elephant Ward include diagnosis and management of childhood leukaemia, lymphomas and solid tumours, histiocytic disorders and myelodysplasias, disorders of haemoglobin synthesis, red cell disorders and bone marrow failure.
Further Information can be found:
You can learn more about our clinical specialties by visiting:
Staying with your child
Visitors are welcome on Elephant Ward. However, visitors are asked to leave by 9pm so that children and families on the ward can rest.
Privacy and dignity
We do everything we can to protect the privacy and dignity of your child at all times during their stay at GOSH. Your child will be allocated a bed space according to how their physical, psychological and social needs are best met while taking into consideration the needs of other children and young people on the ward at that time.
Please tell us if your child has a preference for being with other children of their own age or gender and we will try to meet this request where possible. Please note that there are some circumstances where requests cannot be met, for instance, in high dependency or intensive care areas. Your child’s safety will be our utmost priority at all times.
As part of our progress towards protecting your child’s dignity, we have introduced a new type of theatre gown. This provides unrestricted access for our nurses and doctors while keeping your child covered up and comfortable at all times.
Security and fire
For security reasons, the doors to Elephant Ward are kept locked. Please ring the bell and when asked, state who you are and the name of the child you have come to visit.
All members of staff must wear an identity badge at all times. If someone not wearing an identity badge approaches you or your child at any time, please check with a member of staff. If you are at all worried, please call security on extension 5999.
Our security guards are on duty in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days week. They are here to protect all our staff, patients and visitors and do regular patrols of all the buildings. Remember if you see anything out of the ordinary, ask a member of staff to contact security. Try not to bring valuable items to the hospital, as we cannot accept responsibility for the loss of or damage to any personal belongings.
All parts of the hospital site are protected by a very sensitive fire alarm system. If you are on the ward when the fire alarm sounds continuously, please remain calm and follow the instructions from the nurse in charge. If you are elsewhere in the hospital, please remain where you are and follow the instructions from a member of staff. Do not return to the ward until the area is declared safe by the hospital fire team.
Smoking is not allowed anywhere on GOSH property, which includes inside any of the buildings or areas nearby including entrances. Please do not smoke in our main entrance or near hospital buildings – we will ask you to move elsewhere.
Visiting a patient at GOSH
We know that having visitors can make things seem more ‘normal’ for our patients. However, we have to have a balance between people visiting and our staff being able to care for our patients.
Please note that some wards, particularly intensive care units and wards where children have immune problems, have stricter guidelines than others so if you are unsure, please speak to the nurse in charge.
Who can visit?
One parent or carer is welcome to stay with their child during an admission. The other parent or carer can visit at any time but will not be able to stay overnight on the ward. Grandparents and other friends and relatives are also welcome to visit but preferably between 10am and 9pm, so that the child and their family can rest.
A patient’s brothers and sisters can visit too, but again only between 10am and 9pm. There are toys and games in the ward playroom to keep them occupied. Please remember that you are responsible for siblings’ behaviour at all times in the hospital as our staff cannot supervise siblings.
Some wards restrict the numbers of other children (not brothers or sisters) visiting, so please check before you come to GOSH. Children and young people can also keep in touch with friends through the activities centre and hospital school. Sometimes we can help by providing a videoconference.
Please note that one parent has to be present while other people are visiting or they have to give written permission for visitors while they are not there. If there is any confusion about who can visit a child, we will always give priority to people with ‘parental responsibility’ for the patient.
Our patients’ safety is our utmost concern and if a parent is not present and they have not given permission for visitors, we can and will refuse entry to the ward.
When can I visit?
On most wards, visiting hours for friends and relatives other than the child’s parents are between 10am and 8pm. Some wards close during ‘ward rounds’, where each child’s progress and future plans are discussed. The nurse in charge will be able to give you a rough idea of when these happen and for how long they last. Wards also have ‘quiet periods’ when visiting is restricted, which enables our patients to have an afternoon rest without interruption.
How many people can visit?
Space is quite limited on most of our wards, so we ask that a maximum of three people (including the parent) visit a child at one time. If more than three people want to visit, please take it in turns to visit the ward. Other visitors can get a drink or something to eat in one of our eating-places while they wait.
What can I bring?
You are welcome to bring presents for our patients but please be aware of some restrictions.
- Latex (stretchy rubber) balloons are not allowed, as some of our patients have a life-threatening latex allergy. Foil balloons do not cause these problems so you are welcome to bring these.
- Flowers – water in the vase can develop a bacterium that can cause infection in children.
- Some materials on certain wards (ie fluffy/fleece blankets). Please check with the nurse.
- Please check with the nurse before you bring in food, such as chocolates and sweets, as some of our patients are on restricted diets.
- When you are visiting, please keep the area around the child’s bed tidy so that our nurses can reach the bed easily and quickly.
Please note that the hospital cannot accept responsibility for any loss of or damage to personal property.
Finding the ward
Please ask the child’s parents for the name of the ward. Our reception staff can tell you where the child is staying but will ask you for proof of identity. Volunteers near the main reception desk can escort you to the ward or give you directions.
Occasionally, we have to move children from one ward to another. This can happen at weekends, when the number of patients is reduced so two or more wards might combine to provide a safe and effective service. Other occasions when we might move a child are when he or she has an infection or is at risk of catching an infection. In these circumstances, we might move them to a single cubicle or, on rare occasions when more than one patient has an infection, close the ward to all visitors.
Please do not visit if you have a cold, cough or an upset stomach, or think you have recently been in contact with someone who has. You should wait until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours before you visit. Other infectious diseases including chicken pox and measles could be particularly dangerous for some of our patients so please do not visit if you have been in contact with them recently.
If you are a parent or carer staying with your child and you become unwell during their stay we will ask you to leave the ward to go home to get better.
When you visit, please wash your hands thoroughly before you enter the ward and use the alcohol gel provided at each ward door. When you leave the patient, please wash your hands again and use alcohol gel. Every member of staff is reminded to wash their hands before visiting a child.
Will you give me information about the patient’s progress?
We will only give this information to the child’s parents, unless they give us permission to tell anyone else. If family and friends want to receive regular updates on a child’s progress, we suggest parents tell one person who is then responsible for telling everyone else. This is often easier to manage than making lots of phone calls every time a child’s condition changes.
Can I telephone the patient or their parents?
Most beds in the hospital have a telephone by the bedside, so you can call directly. Please ask the child’s parents for the number, as our switchboard cannot put calls through to patients. We also ask that you do not call after 10pm as this could disturb our patients’ sleep.
GOSH is a smoke-free zone, which means that you cannot smoke anywhere inside hospital property and adjacent areas, such as entrances to hospital buildings.
You can use your mobile phone inside the hospital, but only within designated ‘mobile phone friendly zones’. Using your mobile elsewhere could cause interference with our medical equipment.
We will not tolerate any kind of inappropriate or threatening behaviour – verbal, physical or psychological – and we have a policy to ensure that this is dealt with appropriately. We can and will remove people from GOSH in these circumstances.
If you have any questions about visiting, please telephone the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) Office before you visit on 020 7829 7862.
Protected Meal Times – GOSH Principle
Infants, children and young people will not be unnecessarily interrupted with either non-essential clinical or non-clinical activities during the advertised ward mealtimes. The protected time will be an hour at both lunch and dinner time. Also, they will not be unnecessarily interrupted when they are eating their meals or bottle/breastfeeding outside of these times where possible. Please see the posters on the ward for these times or ask a member of staff.
If your child wants a meal outside of these times, we have a selection of snacks or we can arrange for snacks to come from the hospital kitchen. Please speak with our housekeeper for this service.
A selection of cereals and toast-making facilities are available from the Parents’ Kitchen for the parents.
If you find that breakfast stock, plates, bowls or cutlery are running low, please inform a member of staff as soon as possible.
Cooked breakfasts are not available on the ward but can be purchased from The Lagoon restaurant located on Level 2 of the Morgan Stanley Clinical Building.
You are a valued member of your child‘s healthcare team and we encourage you to take part in his or her care as much as possible while in hospital.
Each cubicle on Elephant Ward has facilities for one parent to stay overnight with their child, and each also has an en suite bathroom which you and your child will be able to use. All cubicles are equipped with TVs and DVD players.
There are shops and cafes in the hospital for parents, children and visitors to buy refreshments, including snacks and hot meals.
The ward also has a parents’ sitting room which you are welcome to use at any time to rest and relax.
Mobile phones can be used in the cubicle, the parents’ room and the corridor outside the ward. Using them elsewhere can interfere with our medical equipment, and can also be disruptive to other families. You can use your mobile phone around the hospital but only in designated mobile-friendly zones.
There are also individual telephones beside each bed in the ward‘s cubicles. Visitors are welcome to call you directly on your dedicated phone line. To make outgoing calls, you can buy telephone cards in the hospital shop.
Elephant Ward has a well-equipped playroom and a play specialist during the week who organises activities. The play specialist can provide age appropriate play opportunities and can help to prepare your child for the procedures that he or she will undergo in hospital.