There were three awards for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital at the annual North West Coast Research and Innovation Awards, which recognise outstanding work from around the region.
The awards are jointly organised by the Innovation Agency; the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Clinical Research Network North West Coast; and NIHR Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North West Coast.
Alder Hey received the Most Innovative Collaboration Award for their ‘Digital Alder Hey’ project, which involves developing an app to help families familiarise themselves with the hospital and distract young patients while they are being treated.
Earlier this year, Alder Hey announced an exciting partnership with the Hartree Centre and IBM Watson to analyse anonymised data collected from patients in an aim to enhance patient experience. This data is being used to build a digital app that will totally transform the experience of children in hospital by bringing comfort, fun and distraction to our patients, while also providing vital information to both them and their parents and carers.
The app is set to include a digital map enabling patients to explore and familiarise themselves with the hospital and their ward before they visit the hospital. They will be able to find out everything they need to know before their visit, from where to park, to what to pack and what their room will look like. The app will also feature gaming and augmented reality, providing entertainment and much needed distraction for patients having procedures.
Work has already begun to develop the first phase of Alder Hey’s app, thanks to the fund-raising and strategic support of Shop Direct, the UK’s second largest online retailer and operator of brands including Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com. Colleagues at Shop Direct raised £249,000 for the project through activities including mountain climbing, singing, abseiling and baking. Members of Shop Direct’s multi-award winning ecommerce team have also been working with Alder Hey’s innovation team to form an advisory panel and develop the app, providing expert insight and advice on design, development and personalisation.
Tricia Roberts, Innovation Manager said: “Collaboration with experts in other industries and sectors can drive innovations in healthcare. Thanks to the support of Alder Hey Children’s Charity, Shop Direct and Hartree, we have been developing an app that will greatly enhance patient experience and revolutionise patient care.”
Clare White, Chief Executive of Alder Hey Children’s Charity said: “Alder Hey Children’s Charity provides vital funding for patient experience projects at Alder Hey and we are incredibly excited to be involved in such a ground-breaking project. We are also extremely grateful to Shop Direct who have raised £249,000 for us and who have also played an integral part in the first phase of our app development. Shop Direct provide thousands of online customers with the very best digital retail experience every day and we have welcomed their expertise in applying similar principles to our own digital app here at Alder Hey.”
A dedicated team of researchers organised by Alder Hey also won a special anniversary accolade. The network of research nurses, clinicians and managers was started ten years ago, covering nine hospitals in Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales, to involve young patients in clinical trials to improve treatments. The Local Research Network was presented with the NIHR @10 Award for Clinical Research Outstanding Impact – marking the tenth year of the National Institute of Health Research. In the network’s first year, 35 children were recruited in trials; after ten years, more than 30,000 children have been recruited and a total of 226 research studies are underway.
Dr Charlie Orton, Associate Chief of Operations for Research said: “It has been 10 years of hard work and we’ve had lots of challenges along the way, but the success is due to an amazing dedicated team and everyone keeping children at the centre of everything we do. It’s great to receive some recognition for our efforts.”
Lead research nurse at Alder Hey, Teresa Moorcroft said: “The team has been through several transitions which have been challenging; but everyone is dedicated, from directors and managers through to the nurses, and it’s fantastic to get this recognition for our work.”
A young patient who brought together other young people, teachers, parents and researchers to highlight the impact of lupus, won the Outstanding Contribution to Patient and Public Involvement in Research Award.
Young patient research ambassador, 17 year old Sophie Ainsworth set up an ‘Invisible illness support group’ called RAiSE - Raising Awareness of Invisible Illnesses in Schools and Education two years ago and led a project to develop resources for schools to support students with invisible illnesses.
She was nominated by Jenny Preston, Patient and Public Involvement Manager at Alder Hey’s NIHR Clinical Research Facility who said: “Sophie is a true ambassador for research and a real inspiration to others. She continues to help to promote research and has presented at various conferences - including running a workshop at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Conference last year.”
Dr Liz Mear, Chief Executive of the Innovation Agency, said: “The North West Coast is rich in talent and collaborations and our awards have thrown a light on outstanding individuals and organisations leading the way in research and innovation. These are people who go over and above what is asked of them, to make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Professor Mark Gabbay, Director of NIHR CLAHRC NWC, said: “These awards have showcased the benefits of working together. By having members of the public, universities, industry, NHS partners and others in a knowledge sharing environment, we can deliver ground-breaking research that improves the health and wellbeing of the population of the North West Coast.”
Jacqueline Pirmohamed, Chief Operating Officer of the NIHR CRN North West Coast, said: I would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists; the awards are a fantastic celebration of the region’s achievements and success relating to research and innovation.
“I would also like to thank the many patients and other individuals who give up their valuable time, often at challenging times in their lives, to benefit our understanding of disease and its treatment.”