If your child has additional needs

We want every child and young person to have the best experience possible when visiting or staying at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH). We will always try to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for children and young people with additional needs – for example, considering a child’s needs when allocating single cubicles, finalising theatre list order or planning outpatient appointments. 

Following are just some of the reasonable adjustments we make for children and young people with additional needs:

Access – All clinical areas at GOSH are accessible to people in wheelchairs, many of our reception desks have lowered sections and there are a number of accessible toilets throughout the hospital. 

Play - The Play department provides everyday play and specialist play preparation for children and young people in outpatient clinics and on the wards. Some of our play specialists have developed expertise in play for children and young people with additional needs. For further information, please visit their website or call them on 020 7829 8849.

Information – GOSH provides a wide range of information on medical conditions, procedures and treatments and medicines. All of these can be provided in alternative formats on request. For instance, our PDF information sheets can be converted to large print by enlarging and printing on A3 paper instead of A4 size. Please contact the Pals team if you require alternative versions of information. Our website is fully enabled for text-to-speech synthesiser software. Easy Read information sheets for many procedures and treatments are also available 

Hearing induction loops – These are available at all reception desks, in our Pals Office and the majority of clinic rooms. In addition, we have a number of portable induction loops. 

Interpreters – We can book interpreters for languages other than English (including British Sign Language (BSL)) for clinic appointments and at various points during a hospital stay or visit. Please ask a member of staff to book one for you if needed. 

Dimmable lighting – Some of our inpatient areas have dimmable lighting so you can turn them down if bright lights upset your child. We are also working to increase the amount of natural daylight wherever our buildings allow. 

Quiet waiting areas – The Outpatient department has been trying to improve waiting facilities for children and young people with an autism spectrum disorder or other conditions in which there is poor tolerance of noise. If your child would prefer to use a quieter area, please tell us when you check in for their appointment. We also provide buzzers so you can leave the department without risking missing your appointment. 

Communicating with your child – Our staff will work with you and your child to find the best way of communicating effectively, starting by asking how your child usually communicates at home. We would encourage you to bring in any resources that may help us communicate with your child when you visit the hospital, for example, their ‘communication passport’ or symbols/pictures.  We will aim to use these as well as gesture, sign, photos, symbols and pictures alongside speech where appropriate. As you are the expert in communicating with your child, we may ask for your help to support us to talk to your child and ensure that we have understood them.  Many members of staff are familiar with key Makaton® signs.

Behaviour that challenges – We understand that coming to hospital can be a difficult experience for some children and young people and we aim to make your visit as easy as possible using the above adjustments. It can also be helpful to bring toys and devices that are entertaining or calming for your child. We understand that at times children can become distressed and show this by becoming disruptive or aggressive. If you think that this could happen to your child, please be assured that staff will be on hand to assist you with the situation. 

Preparation for appointments and stays – In order to reduce the anxiety that your child might feel about their visit to hospital, it could be helpful to prepare them by, for example, letting them know when they are coming, who they will be seeing, and how long the visit will last. You could use pictures to help with this preparation – many of our play specialists have preparation books so contact them in advance to see if they can help. There is also a virtual tour of GOSH on our website. If you would like any support for your child’s visit or stay, please contact the clinic or ward administrator – details will be on your letter. 

Specific additional needs

We have produced some more detailed information for families of children and young people with specific additional needs:

We realise that every child is different and may have a combination of additional needs. However, we hope these pages will start to explain what facilities and services we have available at GOSH. 

If your child has any additional needs, please let us know in advance so that we can make preparations. Some families have found using a ‘hospital passport’ helpful in telling healthcare teams important information about their child. There are several versions available – some of which are available in the Useful documents box on the right.