Working in partnership with local hospitals, respite centres and specialist services, we’re funding projects which focus on improving children’s physical and emotional well-being, while providing additional support services for parents and carers.
Here you can find out a little bit more about some of the projects in Sussex that we’re currently funding…
Neonatal ventilators at the Alex
We have previously funded some ventilators for the High Dependency Unit at the Alex, providing support for hundreds of children during the past year.
We are now funding a neonatal version of the ventilators, specifically designed to help babies under 5kg be nursed at the hospital, avoiding transfer to hospital in London, therefore reducing the length of time they need to stay in hospital.
Blood pressure machine for Princess Royal Hospital
Since the start of the pandemic, babies that would normally be seen on the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) are now attending their appointments on the post-natal ward at the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH).
This means that there are more children being seen in the same area so this new blood pressure machine will help the babies be treated more quickly and not have to wait for other equipment to become available.
Resuscitation training equipment in Chichester
Taking a baby or child home from hospital after being acutely ill can be a terrifying time for a parent. Leaving behind the security of knowing that there are trained medical and nursing staff on call in case of any concerns can be a worrying time for families.
Which is why we have agreed to fund some new resuscitation training equipment for St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
This equipment, including baby and child sized manikins, will enable staff to deliver training for parents taking their children home, helping to reduce delays in discharging them and provide that much needed reassurance that they have all the skills they need to manage independently.
Replacement Dental X-Ray Machine
The previous machine at the hospital is 14 years old and the images it produces aren’t as high quality and effective as they could be for the medial staff. Despite putting in a range of contingencies, it has reached the point where the machine really needs to be replaced.
This new machine will be used to take x-rays of the teeth, head and neck, and can accurately diagnose a range of different conditions. Once in place it will be able to quickly and effectively treat around 800 paediatric patients each year.
Mock MRI scanner
Having an MRI scan as an adult can be a noisy, frightening experience so imagine how it feels for a small child? Not only is it really difficult for them to keep still for the 30 minutes that the scan takes, but the whole process can be an incredibly daunting one.
Giving young children an opportunity to see and understand how these machines work and what it feels like before they have their own scan could really help reduce their anxiety and make it easier to perform the scans.
So, we are funding a small mock MRI scanner so that children aged between three and six can see how they work and understand the process. As Orthopaedic Consultant Thomas Crompton from the Alex explains: “If children have seen a miniature scanner, perhaps even scanning their teddy bear, they will then be able to have scans without the need to have a general anaesthetic.”
This will then hopefully make the whole process much more relaxed for both the patient and their parents.
New sensory garden at the Alex
At Rockinghorse we understand the how important mental health and well-being is to children being treated in the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital.
Which is why we are fundraising for is a new sensory garden at the Alex. The current garden is in need of updating so it’s more accessible, safe and fun.
The new garden will be a relaxing, safe space for patients being treated, helping them forget about being in hospital. It will also be a space offering parents a welcome break from the hospital ward.
Sensory room in the OT Hub
The Specialist Occupational Therapy Team in Brighton works with children attending the Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) to assess what additional needs and support they may have.
Children accessing the PRU may have sensory motor difficulties, speech and language issues and learning disabilities which mean they need additional support to re-enter mainstream school.
We are funding a new sensory room at the PRU so that the OT team can work with these children in a safe, therapeutic space which in turn enables them to accurately assess how best to support their development.
We are funding some yoga sessions for young patients at the Alex with ongoing medical conditions. Often young people can feel failed by their bodies and have a difficult relationship with them, especially after the trauma surgery.
These sessions, run by the Yoga Project, aim to give the young people an opportunity to experiment with breathing, moving, strengthening, stretching and resting.
This can help them understand how their body reacts to stress or anxiety and learn how a few simple yoga postures can help them let go of this stress, sleep better and generally feel more comfortable with themselves.
Sensory room at Seaside View
Seaside View Child Development Centre in Brighton supports children with additional development needs such as autism and genetic disorders.
We are funding a new sensory room to provide a calm, therapeutic space for the pupils, equipped with a wide range of specialist sensory equipment such accessible swings, jumping mats and a mobile interactive floor projector.
Often children with autism become easily over-whelmed within busy environments or situations and having a space like this will really help them return to learning and interacting with other people and respond more positively to their normal environment.
It will also help staff at Seaside View more accurately assess how students process sensory information and how best to support them.
We are continuing to fund weekly art therapy sessions for young people living with a range of ongoing chronic medical conditions, which have resulted in self harming behaviours, severe anxiety, depression, lack of confidence and panic attacks.
The group provides a space to explore and reflect on powerful and important feelings and issues based on individual and collective experiences and concerns, many of which have recently been around lockdown and how this has impacted on their mental and physical wellbeing.
The aims of the weekly session include building young people’s resilience and coping strategies, reducing isolation, and of course exploring their emotions through creative expression.
As one participant explains, the sessions have a really positive impact: “I am so grateful for art therapy as it has given me a time of the week to reflect and get all my worries off my chest. Saskia brings so many amazing art materials to the group which has made me really start to enjoy making art. I find art therapy very relaxing and calming and always leave with no stress.”
Delivery suite equipment for the Princess Royal Hospital
Having a calm, relaxing environment when you are giving birth can make a real difference to a woman’s experience of labour.
Which is why the delivery suite at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath is being given funding for a range of new equipment to help their clients feel as comfortable as possible.
This includes fairy lights, new bedside lamps and some breast-feeding pillows. The lighting will make a huge difference to the ambience within the delivery rooms and will enable women and their partners to sleep while still allowing the midwives to see what they are doing.
Going into surgery can be a really scary experience for an adult, let alone a child, so any way to help make this a nicer experience is really worthwhile.
So, we are funding some new child-friendly warm up jackets for the theatre staff which will not only keep the staff warm but will help improve the patient’s experience by making the staff look more friendly and less frightening.
These jackets will be made by a volunteer using colourful, fun material and will each have the Rockinghorse logo embroidered onto them. And every year around 6,500 children come through the theatres at the Alex which means lots and lots of them will benefit from seeing these colourful outfits.
Hurstwood Park Xbox
Hurstwood Park is home to the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath. One of the regular procedures that they perform are Electroencephalograms (EEG), recordings of brain activity, used to diagnose and monitor a range of conditions affecting the brain.
Whilst these EEGs aren’t painful, they do involve having 22 electrodes attached to the child’s head which can be difficult for some children to understand or deal with. The scans can be up to 90 minutes long and the patient needs to be as still as possible so having something to distract them is really important.
So, we are funding an Xbox so that children can watch DVDs, play games and listen to music during the scans. This will provide valuable distractions for the children and subsequently enhance the quality of the recording and improve their ultimate diagnosis.
Riding therapy at Chailey Heritage
We are continuing to fund the therapeutic horse-riding service for children with complex needs at Chailey Heritage Foundation.
This fantastic therapy has become a fundamental part of the curriculum at the Foundation as it uses the movement of the horse as physiotherapy, helping to strengthen core muscles and improve head control.
As pupils spend most of their time in wheelchairs and have very limited mobility, the riding sessions provide a unique opportunity to exercise out of their chair and use a range of muscles that they don’t usually use.
Never has it been more important to provide this service for the young people so that they can spend time outdoors. Not only does it help their physical wellbeing, but it also offers a great opportunity for children to learn, have fun and progress their motor skills. And for pupils with dual sensory impairments, the touch, feel and smell of the horse is also a wonderful sensory experience.
All of this is why we are so proud to be continuing our support of this service throughout 2021.
Woodland wellbeing days
The Psychotherapist in Paediatric Psychological Support Service (PPSS) at the Alex is running some Woodland Wellbeing Days, funded by Rockinghorse, for children with long term medical conditions.
These sessions are aimed at helping to build self-esteem, promote emotional resilience and give children a fun day out that helps build their confidence. They are also a great way for young people to meet others living with chronic medical conditions, helping to reduce their sense of isolation and difference.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it’s been much harder for groups to meet indoors. And as we still don’t know when these restrictions are likely to ease, the PPSS decided to make use of the outdoors so they can still offer a type of therapeutic support.
The sessions will take place at the wilderness site in Stanmer Park in Brighton and will involve playing games, building dens and learning how to light fires using steels – all surrounded by and involving nature.
Teenage Support Group at the Alex
We’re pledging our ongoing support for the Teenage Support Group at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, during 2020. The group was set up to benefit teenagers living with ongoing chronic medical conditions who are outpatients at the hospital.
The weekly group uses art therapy to provide a safe, confidential space where young people can explore their thoughts and feelings about living with a chronic medical condition. The group supports teenagers living with conditions such as; epilepsy, arthritis, diabetes, ehlers-danlos syndromes, chronic pain, and gastro-intestinal problems.
Weekly sessions support the young people with anxiety, depression, and trauma that often accompanies chronic medical conditions. Each group caters for between 6-8 members and one-to-one sessions are also provided. Art Psychotherapist, Saskia Neary, works alongside the Paediatric Psychological Support Service to address the issues presented by members of the group.
Support for parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis
In 2017, we funded mindfulness courses for parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis. In partnership with the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, we funded the parent forum for two years, which has received notable positive feedback.
Facilitated by the Paediatric Psychosocial Support Service (PPSS), mindfulness skills are taught to parents of young patients with Cystic Fibrosis. The course aims to help parents manage and cope with stressful and difficult situations by supporting their well-being and mental health.
Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic, chronic and life-limiting condition that requires ongoing daily management. This includes regular medication, intensive physiotherapy and specific dietary requirements, as well as routine clinic visits and regular hospitalisations.
Following the success of the introductory courses, we have agreed to fund a continuation course which will run for another two-year period. Dr Sally Clarke is the Clinical Psychologist for Cystic Fibrosis and explains the huge benefits of the mindfulness programme.
She says, “Parents who attending the ‘Rockinghorse Nurturing Parents’ sessions have reported a wide range of psychological benefits. These include improvements in anxiety and depression amongst many others.”
We have also received lots of positive feedback from parents, including: “I enjoyed practicing mindful communication in the sessions. It helped me think about my triggers of stress and try to see them differently.” “The sessions have improved my skills as a listener and helped me notice physical and emotional changes in myself and others. It has given me the confidence to be kind to myself.”
Yoga project at the Alex
As the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, we raise money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment as well as providing funding for therapies and services. As part of our ongoing commitment to the Alex, we’re funding a Yoga Project to offer weekly sessions to young people with chronic medical conditions.
The regular yoga sessions will actively engage young people aged 12-18-years-old in developing their resources and skills in self-care, managing anxiety and stress in relation to their medical condition. The sessions have been developed in consultation with young patients and a range of professionals so that it can meet the specific needs of participants.
Initial feedback shows that the yoga sessions are an effective way to increase physical activity, gain strength, flexibility and balance. The sessions have also proven to help with stress and anxiety, leaving young patients to feel supported and more resilient. Due to the complexity of the medical conditions of some of the young patients, a trauma sensitive yoga approach has been developed.
Since the beginning of June, yoga practitioner Saskia has moved the yoga sessions online – delivering both group and one to one weekly sessions. Despite some challenges involved with delivering trauma sensitive yoga virtually, they have been working well. The one to one sessions have proved successful for the participants and proved to be really helpful for connecting with parents too.
Feedback from one parent about the sessions included; “We are so very grateful to Saskia, she has done so much for E. Being extremely hypermobile and having eczema and not being the best sleeper have led to real challenges in her behaviour at times but having that sacred time and space once a week has been invaluable to her. At a time when most kids were pretty lost, to be remembered by brilliant Saskia with the kind support from Rockinghorse it gave her a sense of being cared about, a reminder of how important it was to do yoga a long with an emotional release.”
The Mind Clinic
We’re the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) and a vital supporter of the neighbouring Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) in Brighton, funding equipment and services over and above what the NHS is able to fund.
Since February 2017, we’ve been funding a service called the ‘Mind Clinic’, a dedicated service to benefit staff at the Alex. The Mind Clinic provides counselling services and pastoral care that staff can access in work time or when they are off duty.
The purpose of the clinic is to provide a non-performance related counselling service that is freely available to approximately 149 doctors, nurses and non-clinical staff who work at the frontline of the NHS.
We’re continuing to fund The Mind Clinic, pledging to support the service throughout 2020 into 2021. Thanks to our funding, free confidential counselling sessions are available to staff at the Alex during works hours and on days off.
Some of the feedback that’s been received during the 2019 Mind Clinic’s, include; “I think the Mind Clinic has been really valuable to us nurses, especially when we deal with physically and mentally demanding challenges on a daily basis. We often forget about our own wellbeing in the process, so the Mind Clinic gives us the opportunity to take time to do this.”
Simon Parke from the Mind Clinic, says, “The funding from Rockinghorse has enabled us to offer 72 one-to-one sessions with staff at the Alex. We provide a safe and insightful place in which hospital staff can work through issues that are arising and we’ve had such positive feedback.”