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…
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.
Replacement Masimo Sleep Study Monitor
Sleep studies are used for several vital reasons at The Alex including helping to decide if babies are ready to be weaned off oxygen, diagnosing sleep disordered breathing and providing vital information for patients receiving non-invasive ventilation.
The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital currently has one monitor, but as patient numbers increase a second machine is vital in ensuring there is no break in the provision of these studies when the machine needs servicing or if the worst happens and one breaks down.
The hospital currently performs at least two sleep studies a week, meaning over 100 babies and children are supported every year. Without this equipment patients may need to travel into London to have the same sleep study done which would delay the time in being able to alter treatment as these studies are vital in providing the required evidence for these changes.
This new Masimo Sleep Study Monitor comes with an updated software package and a modem cable which will make it easier to download the results from the study.
The monitor will ensure that sleep studies can continue to be provided at The Alex and benefit those patients whose treatment plan is dependent on having a sleep study undertaken.
We are funding this child friendly Co2 Monitor which will allow the medical staff at the Alex to continuously monitor their young patient’s carbon dioxide levels. By monitoring these levels, staff can ensure timely medical interventions and avoid the disruption and trauma of lots of blood tests.
It will also help them to stabilise the ventilation support to patients and quickly alert medical and nursing staff to any change in the child’s condition, all of which means that they can better monitor the length of a hospital stay.
The monitor will also be able to provide sleep studies closer to home avoiding the disruption of a trip to London for the same study.
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.
Asthma Controller Sensor
Asthma is the most common long-term medical condition affecting children in the UK. The best way to manage this condition is to make sure patients regularly take their preventative inhaler. However, a common, and preventable problem, is children forgetting to regularly take this medication.
As a way of combatting this problem, we are funding a great piece of equipment that aims to help families and their medical teams have clear information on how their medication is being used. The Hailie sensor attaches to asthma inhalers, specifically the preventative version, via a Bluetooth link to a smartphone app and enables children and parents monitor their mediation.
It also provides reminders for patients to take their puffer at the correct times and links to a clinical portal for doctors to see how their patients are getting on.
The use of these devices has shown to increase the adherence to medication by 59%, reduce hospital admissions for asthmatic children by 80% and reduce the use of their reliever medication by 45%.
This all works towards children’s general quality of life as well as reducing health care intervention and hospital admissions.
Good grief toys
We are funding a set of specialist wooden toys and characters for Hill Park School in Portslade, aimed at helping children to process any grief that they may be experiencing.
The school is a specialist educational needs setting and many of the pupils have experienced bereavement and loss, but with many being non-verbal or with significant communication difficulties, additional support to explore their emotions is really helpful.
Children can experience grief in many different ways and this set of specially made toys can help children with complex needs learn how to express this grief, deal with other difficult emotions and help them understand and communicate their feelings about death, bereavement, and loss.
Amelia Wilton, Family Support Worker at Hill Park, explained how important these toys could be: “We have recently experienced the sudden loss of a teacher and a child with very complex needs who was in hospital long term sadly lost his father very suddenly.
“This set would have allowed us to communicate with the children about their beloved teacher passing and give the child who lost his father the chance to communicate his thoughts and worries, whilst supporting his understanding of what was happening in his family in a visual and tangible way.”
In-ground trampoline for Drove Road
We have agreed to fund a brand new, in-ground trampoline for Drove Road residential scheme in Brighton.
Drove Road is a residential service for children and young people with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. Many of the young people staying there have autism and high sensory needs and during their time at the school they are offered a range of activities and experiences, including regular sessions on a trampoline, to help them manage their emotions and behaviours successfully.
The scheme has had their existing trampoline for over 10 years, and it’s used on a daily basis by the young people. The movement of the trampoline provides therapeutic exercises for people with a wide variety of physical and learning disabilities and can have many positive impacts on the brain and behaviours often seen in people on the autistic spectrum.
All of which is why we are funding this new trampoline for Drove Road, to enable as many young people as possible to continue to access the positive benefits of the equipment as possible.
Ride on cars for the Alex
Giving children something fun to focus on when they are heading into an operation can really help calm nerves and make them feel more in control.
So, we are funding some brilliant new toy cars so that young patients can ride themselves to the operating room for their surgery. These are an excellent incentive to help get them to the theatre as they are often very anxious or overwhelmed.
They also massively decrease the chances of surgery needing to be cancelled or postponed which causes wasted theatre slots, additional costs to the NHS and a traumatic experience for the child themselves.
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.
Support for bereaved families
When a family lose a baby, photographs are often the most cherished memories that parents can have to remember their little one.
Because of this we understand the importance of producing high-quality images to commemorate their baby, so we have agreed to fund a new camera and printer for staff on the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU). The camera has a variety of different settings which mean that staff will be able to take photos in a variety of settings, producing high quality, beautiful photographs for families to keep.
In addition, the bereavement of a child can also greatly impact on their siblings, so we are also providing funding for a range of books specifically for brothers and sisters who have lost a new sibling to help them to understand the situation. This is especially important when the bereavement is sudden or unexpected.
This support will hopefully help the TMBU contribute to the support they offer families during an extremely distressing event. This in turn will hopefully help with the ongoing bereavement care for the family and any other children they may have.
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.
Feeding Therapy Equipment
Rockinghorse have agreed to fund a range of equipment to provide positive eating and drinking experiences for children staying at The Alex and for those with outpatient appointments.
For children with swallowing difficulties, those who need to develop their feeding skills and those who are weaning off feeding tubes, support to promote safe feeding is really important.
To help support this, we are providing five new highchairs with adjustable tables and heights and supportive, safe seats along with a range of equipment including beakers, cutlery and crockery aimed at helping children to become more comfortable during mealtimes.
Over the last year the speech therapy department has worked with 180 children, both inpatients and outpatients across The Alex and the Trevor Mann Baby Unit. This means that this equipment will help many children to develop their feeding and make mealtime a more positive experience.
The Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath often cares for extremely premature babies towards the end of their hospital stay. As these babies get older, they become more aware and need more visual stimulation.
In order to help with their development, Rockinghorse is funding some new equipment for the SCBU which will support a range of different visual and motor skills. The new equipment includes a patterned mirror, a laser sphere and a large, mirrored floor mat.
In addition to these more physical pieces of equipment, we are also funding wireless speaker so that the staff at the SCBU can continue to offer a music hour for the babies while they are unable to have in-person visits from musicians.
The Healthy Futures Team is a Specialist Public Health Nursing Service which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children aged 0 to 19 across Brighton. The Nursery Nurses within the team provide specialist support for children who have been identified as needing extra help by a health visitor.
We are funding a range of toys so that the team can provide video call play sessions with younger children who have a development delay. As the team are unable to currently do face to face visits, it’s important that they are still able to provide support to vulnerable children and families via video play sessions.
These toys will make sure families have the right tools to help support their child’s needs and can help encourage them during these important virtual play sessions. These meetings offer advice and support alongside play sessions to encourage the children’s speech and language, social and play skills and fine and gross motor skills development.
Toniebox Audio Book Readers
The Toniebox is an audiobook player that uses different character figures to play stories without the need for an internet connection but more crucially allows up to 90 minutes of recorded speech or singing that can then be played back at any time.
Children who are in hospital long-term can often spend large periods without their parents/carers which means they can often miss out on hearing the voices of their loved ones. As it has been proven that hearing familiar voices is important to infant brain development, this equipment will be really helpful for both the psychological and emotional needs of long-term patients in The Alex.
These players are also fantastic for children with visual impairments or other complex needs who may not be able to use other forms of entertainment like television or light-projectors. And they can also help to soothe and comfort babies with a familiar voice when their parents aren’t able to be with them.
Put simply, the Toniebox Audio Book Readers will make a huge difference to the patients’ bond with their families that is often disrupted by a long stay in hospital.
The Extratime club was set up in 2003 by two parents who were struggling to find suitable, affordable childcare for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Since then, the club has gone on to support hundreds of families across Brighton, Hove and West Sussex and becoming one of the largest providers of inclusive play and leisure in Sussex.
We have agreed to fund the purchase of two iPads for the club so that they can transfer their current paperwork process into an electronic format and enable staff to keep parents more involved in their children’s activities while at the club.
Currently staff have to complete up to 11 pages of information for each child covering all their support and medical needs. Being able to reduce this long-winded process will decrease the stress on staff and parents and make it much easier to share across the team in a safe, secure manner.
Along with collating information on the support needs of each of the participants, the tablets will also be used as a communication tool to share information and photographs quickly and easily with parent carers, keeping them involved.
We have received this update from Jenny Kay, Funding & Impact Lead at Extratime: “The tablets are already having an impact at the clubs, making it much easier for our play/youth workers to access vital information about children’s needs, and they’re also regularly being used to take and share photos with parent carers so they can see what their child has been getting up to, which I know is especially appreciated by the families of non-verbal children.”
MOTOmed Gracile Bike
We are funding a specialist motorized movement therapy device specifically designed for children in wheelchairs for the Woodlands Meed School in Burgess Hill.
Woodlands Meed is a special school supporting young people with a wide range of learning needs and disabilities. The MOTOmed Gracile Bike will help the pupils at the school with their mobility and physiotherapy sessions and as it’s fully adjustable, it can be adapted for any of the children using it.
The narrow distance between the foot pedals and the height adjustable motor shaft allow for physiologically correct movements, even for small children, and the large colour training display helps keep them motivated to keep up their sessions.
The Occupational Therapists at Woodlands Meed have seen the benefits and improvements that regular use of the MOTOmed can have to build strength and mobility. Not only does it help increase the range of movements for the children, but it also gives the users an enjoyment of movement not usually available to them in their wheelchairs.
This is a great piece of equipment that will be used by lots of children at the school for many years to come, helping them improve their strength, mobility and confidence.
Visualite Ceiling Lights
We are funding a two beautiful Visualite ceiling light for the patient area within the children’s emergency departments at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton and the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.
These lights create a relaxing, ambient atmosphere which will help reduce any anxiety felt by the children and their parents while they are waiting for treatment. The images within the light can also help with distracting children while they are undergoing treatments and procedures in the hospital.
Powered by edge light technology and supplied with a stunning range of visuals, the Visualite system creates amazing lighting effects which can really open up the space.
Daniela Cunha, Senior Sister in Accident and Emergency at the Princess Royal Hospital explains what a difference this new equipment will make at the hospital:
“Having ways to distract children while undertaking treatments they might find distressing, like blood tests and stitches, is key to calming anxious and stressed children down and so treating them as quickly as possible. To have something interesting to look at that you can describe and chat about together really engages the children and so keeps them distracted.”
Specialist Toys & Resources
The Specialist Nursery Team at Seaside View Child Development Centre in Brighton provide play sessions for children with additional developmental needs.
These invaluable sessions, usually offered in 6-8-week blocks, are used to assess, diagnose, and support these children and offer support and advice to their parents and carers. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic the team has been unable to provide these much-needed sessions, meaning the families who need this support the most have been unable to access it.
But the team at Seaside View have developed ways to provide these sessions virtually, meaning that children are still able to access the support they need along with their parents and carers being able to help their development with the support and experience of the team.
In order to provide these sessions, Rockinghorse is funding the purchase of 18 toy boxes containing the same toys and equipment usually used by the sessions but now delivered to the families to use at home.
The play sessions can then take place online, with the team able to assess and monitor patient’s development, directly enabling them to help them progress using the right mix of equipment and support.
These sessions will promote the physical developments, communication skills and emotional well-being of the children along with empowering their parents and carers to continue with their child’s daily programme and be involved in their progress.
Mobile Sensory Trolley
The Play Team at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital has asked for our support to update the sensory trolleys that they use throughout the hospital.
The new Baby Voyager trolley is really lightweight and easy to manoeuvre around the hospital beds and provides children with a wonderful sensory experience. The Voyager includes, among other things, fibre optics, a projector and Bluetooth radio, all aimed at creating a fully immersive sensory experience for children.
Sensory equipment like this is invaluable for children with additional needs and long-term patients at the Alex. They also create a calm environment and distraction for children in the A&E and x-ray department, making treatment a much less stressful experience.
Additional support to Chalkhill during the Covid-19 crisis
For the past few years, Rockinghorse has supported Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit through the funding of an activities programme for children and young people with severe and complex mental health issues.
The programme compliments medical care and has made a huge difference to the young patients at the hospital.
Sadly, in these uncertain times, frontline staff at Chalkhill have had to scale back the programme as many of the activities involve inviting people into the hospital to deliver sessions, something that simply isn’t possible at the moment or for the next few weeks.
This is having a devastating effect on the health and overall wellbeing of the vulnerable young people admitted to the hospital. Staff at Chalkhill are working long hours, looking after patients who can struggle to understand the effects of the virus and for whom times of such huge anxiety and upset make their mental health so much worse.
Rockinghorse are pledging support to the nursing staff and patients at Chalkhill by helping them to purchase equipment such as iPads and tablets, personal DVD players, digital radios, art materials, sports equipment, books and DVDs, which the young people can use while in this time of isolation. Having ways to fill their leisure time is vital for these young people already struggling with their mental health.
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.”