How your donations are making a big difference

We’re here to improve the lives of sick and disadvantaged babies, children and young people in Sussex…

We work with hospitals, paediatric units, and children’s centres in Sussex by funding equipment, items and services needed to help improve a young patient’s experience.

Through our fundraising, we work alongside local businesses, schools, community groups and individuals, just like yourself, who help us raise funds to carry out our vital work.

We think it’s important to shout about the fantastic projects you’ve helped us achieve, which are already making a big difference to healthcare services in Sussex. Below, we’ve listed a whole heap of projects that we’ve recently been able to fund thanks to your donations and support.

To find out more about all our projects, both recently funded and the ones we’re currently fundraising for, please click here.

EQUIPMENT

Bilirubin monitors for the Community Midwife Team

Your support at Christmas has enabled us to successfully fund our appeal for the Community Midwife Team in Sussex. We pledged to fund bilirubin monitors for the team of 75 community midwives who look after over 6,000 mums and babies every year throughout their pregnancy, during home visits and appointments at GP surgeries and paediatric centres.

One of the most serious conditions that the community midwives look out for in newborns is jaundice and if left untreated, can cause long-term damage to a baby. We’ve funded bilirubin monitors so that midwives can detect jaundice during home visits, without the need of new mum’s having to go back into their local hospital for what is a simple, non-invasive and accurate test.

By equipping community midwives in Sussex with transcutaneous bilirubin meters to carry out monitoring as part of their post-natal care, only babies tested positive for jaundice would be sent to hospital for further tests and treatment.

Veinsite equipment for the Royal 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’ve funded pieces of equipment called Veinsites. The equipment will benefit the dedicated Children’s Emergency Department, Medical Ward, High Dependency Unit, Day Case and Phlebotomy Service.

This specialist piece of equipment has enabled staff to carry out difficult cannulations in young patients with less stress and discomfort for the child. By using the Veinsite, there has been a reduction in attempts for a cannula to be successfully inserted as the equipment makes the veins clearer for the practitioner.

Dr Catherine Bevan, Clinical Director of Children’s Services at the Alex, explains how the Veinsite equipment is having an impact on HDU, she said: “The new Veinsite is amazing. The equipment is enabling staff working on the High Dependency Unit to find veins in patients which would previously have been incredibly difficult to access. Not only are we able to do this in a virtually pain-free way, but also usually on the first try. This leads to much less anxiety from the child, and results in quicker treatment.

“There is also an unforeseen additional benefit of the Veinsite, which is that it is quite ‘sci-fi’ in both appearance and function; the patients seem to really like this futuristic element, and it is a good distraction. The large visor that we wear is like something from Star Trek and we encourage the children to try it on for themselves so they can see their veins and feel involved. This approach is enormously helpful with compliance, leading to lower anxiety about the whole procedure.”

Ventilators for the Royal Alex

Last year, we launched an appeal to provide additional ventilation equipment for the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital. We aimed to fund at least four more ventilators for the High Dependency Unit (HDU) to help treat the hospital’s most poorly patients.

The ventilators are used to treat over 130 children and babies each year – most of these patients being under three years of age and facing prolonged stay in hospital. In addition to this, disabled children often require respiratory support during their multiple admissions, and several long-term patients require constant ventilation on the ward.

Hill Park School Drivedeck

Hill Park School is a 78-pupil community special school in Portslade that caters for young people from 4-16 years of age. Pupils range from having profound and multiple learning disabilities to severe or moderate learning disabilities.

We’ve funded a Smile Smart Drivedeck to benefit wheelchair users at the school. Replacing their 20-year-old platform, the new powered platform base enables children to convert their specialist static seating into a powered wheelchair. Access to this equipment means that pupils can enjoy increased participation in P.E. and other physical activities at the school.

Lesley Harding Senior Specialist Occupational Therapist shared with us this lovely feedback, she said: “I just wanted to extend my sincere thanks to Rockinghorse for funding the Smile Technology platform base at Hill Park School. We’ve already used it for a couple of children with complex physical and learning difficulties and it was an emotional experience – particularly seeing the four-year-old, who has just started school and was using the platform for her first time.

“We were unsure if she would understand how to use it, but she immediately reached for and activated the switch with her hand which moved the chair forward and smiled in response. She then achieved Star of the Week award from her teacher.

“The platform is a joy to use for us adults too. It reliably charges, is easy to manoeuvre, can be used inside or outside, and has a full kit of switch options for us to use with the students. Thank you so much for realising our dreams to make the experience of powered mobility much more available to our students.”

The TMBU X-ray appeal

Last Christmas, we launched an appeal to provide the Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) with an X-ray Imaging Machine. Thanks to the incredible support received, we’ve raised the funds needed to purchase the equipment.

The machine will provide neonatal staff with an instant X-ray image, allowing immediate modification of lines and tubes on a premature baby. The equipment will significantly improve the overall experience of a preterm infant, who typically requires multiple X-rays to be taken during their admission. The new digital imaging system will completely revolutionise the way in which staff at the TMBU can treat their tiny patients.

Whoopsadaisy equipment and sensory items

Whoopsadaisy is a small, Brighton charity helping children with physical disabilities live their life as independently as possible. The service provides weekly under 5’s groups, Saturday sessions and holiday clubs for 5 to 12-year-olds. Last year we funded two new pieces of specialist equipment and this year, we have pledged to fund more.

Using the Conductive Education of learning Whoopsadaisy helps children with cerebral palsy and other motor disorders to build their physical, social and communication skills. They will use the equipment we fund to improve the children’s experience of, and their progress within, their groups, sessions and clubs.

The equipment will also help staff to respond to the children’s changing physical and sensory needs and to help them achieve their goals of improved mobility, confidence and independence, with around 40 children benefiting from the new equipment.

As part of this project, we aim to fund custom-made pieces of equipment that can attach/detach to furniture to meet the children’s growing needs, a trike to help children whose legs are severely affected by their disability, and a range of sensory equipment in order to offer a wider variety of sensory stimulation to help motivate the children and encourage their physical progress.

SERVICES

The Blencowe Family Rooms at the Royal Alex

The Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton has welcomed the opening of its newly refurbished family rooms within the Oncology Day Care ward on level 9. The Blencowe Family Rooms were officially opened on Thursday 7 March thanks to funding from Rockinghorse. The rooms are already having a positive impact on young patients receiving treatment on the ward, as well as their families.

An incredible £45,000 was donated by Michael and Sarah Blencowe in support of our projects at the Alex, and in particular, the oncology services provided at the children’s hospital. The two rooms have been transformed into a colourful and vibrant space dedicated to both patients and parents.

The first is a play room which provides an area for young patients to relax and play during treatment and appointments. It is filled with a variety of toys and games, as well as iPads and a PlayStation console. The second room is a parents lounge providing a comfortable and relaxing seating area where families can meet for consultations or take time for themselves.

Dr Alice Emond is the Rockinghorse Clinical Psychologist in Paediatric Oncology and spoke about the impact the rooms are having, she said: “The Blencowe Family Rooms have already had a very positive impact on the experience of patients and their families visiting Oncology Day Care. Both patients and their siblings have said how much they look forward to spending time in the new playroom when they visit the ward.”

Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project

Every year, we support a very special project for parents staying at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) and Trevor Mann Baby Unit (TMBU) with a poorly child or baby at Christmas. Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project was set up by parents Lucy and Simon Pond four years ago, in memory if their little boy Aidan.

Together, we provide festive hampers and arrange for Christmas dinner to be cooked for families in both hospitals. Thanks to your support, the project was able to provide 55 festive hampers for parents at the Alex and TMBU on Christmas Day in 2018 and supported by a wonderful team of volunteers and Ronald McDonald House, Christmas dinners were also provided.

An incredible £14,000 has been raised for Aidan’s Christmas Dinner Project in the last four years, providing 2015 festive hampers for families at Christmas. We’re now aiming to fund the hampers again this year. To make a donation, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aidanschristmasdinner2019.

Beads of Life project

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’ve funded a project dubbed Beads of Life for the team of Play Specialists.

This unique project will enable the play team to keep track of a long-term patient’s hospital journey. The idea is that each bead will relate to a different hospital procedure, for example, a red bead will mean that a young patient has had a blood test. These beads will be made into a bracelet and will give both the patient and their family, a visual representation of their hospital journey.

Through the Beads of Life project, the child and their family can take control of what can be a tough and difficult situation – receiving a special bead for each procedure and milestone during their time at the Alex. It will also offer the opportunity to reflect on their journey and the emotional process they may have been through as well as helping to explain their hospital visits and admissions to friends and other family members.

Support for parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis

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’ve funded a mindfulness course for parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis.

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic, chronic and life-limiting condition which requires ongoing daily management (intensive physiotherapy, medications and dietary requirements), regular hospitalisations and routine clinic visits. Young people with Cystic Fibrosis and their parents can often be at an increased risk of compromised well-being and mental health difficulties.

The Paediatric Psychosocial Support Service (PPSS) provides psychological care for children and young people at the Alex. This is a multi-disciplinary team of health care professionals who provide treatment and care for children and young people with Cystic Fibrosis in East Sussex. Through this service, we’re funding a parent forum to teach mindfulness skills to parents of young patients with Cystic Fibrosis to help them manage and cope with stressful and difficult situations.

The first mindfulness course ran from November 2018 until January this year. Following the sessions, we have received some very positive feedback from parents of children with Cystic Fibrosis who have benefited from the course. Parent 1, said: “It has meant so much to be with people who truly understand what it is like to have a child with Cystic Fibrosis. No-one else can understand.”

Parent 2, said: “I feel this experience has helped me put so many things in perspective in a way I would not have considered before.” Parent 3, said: “I really enjoyed being in a group with other CF parents as the condition can be very isolating since the children can’t socialise with other children who have CF. As parents you can feel quite alone. Because of this, it was really nice to get together as a group.”

The Rockinghorse Activities Programme at Chalkhill in 2018

We’re supporting Heads on and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust by funding the annual Rockinghorse Activities Programme for young people at Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit. Based in Haywards Heath, Chalkhill is Sussex’s only mental health inpatient unit for children and young people with serious mental health conditions.

Since 2015, we’ve funded the programme for young people to benefit from activities-based projects on and off site as part of their treatment for acute mental health disorders and emotional difficulties, such as depression, eating disorders and psychosis.

We have visited Chalkhill many times and are always blown away by the dedication and support of the staff. Our most recent visit was in March when we were joined by one of our major donors to see first-hand how their funds are making a huge difference.

Nik Mansfield, Matron at Chalkhill, provided us with some wonderful feedback from last year’s programme, she said: “The Rockinghorse Activities Programme has made such a difference to the support we are able to give to the young people that we work with, and really compliments the clinical work and education programme that we provide.

“The activities are varied, ranging from graffiti workshops to professional cup-cake decorating. We also have an enrichment programme which is available for the young people who are able to go off-site, which includes activities such as animal care and rock climbing.

“Rockinghorse’s funding has also helped us to buy self-soothe and distraction items to give young people something physical that they can use to reduce their distress and be part of helping to prevent them from self-harming. One of the most recent items they have funded is weighted stuffed animal toys which young people can place on their lap. Each toy applies calming pressure helping to provide comfort, reduce excessive fidgeting and support improved focus and concentration.

“We are so grateful to Rockinghorse for the support they have given and continue to give us here at Chalkhill. Many of the young people we work with are inpatients who aren’t yet well enough to go home for periods of leave. Rockinghorse’s generous contributions make such a difference to the experience that we are able to give them, helping to provide the therapeutic benefit of meaningful and enjoyable activities.”

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