Rainbow Ward is the Unit for children with cancer and leukaemia up to the age of thirteen based at the Children’s Hospital for Wales. It is a unique environment that hosts very special children and families. It’s so much more than a ward; with specialist doctors and nurses, and the long lengths of time spent on the ward, months at a time in many cases, Rainbow has created a very real atmosphere of family.
Alongside the LATCH social workers, psychologists, grants, home from home accommodation and holidays, one of LATCH’s primary functions is to support Rainbow Ward with the provision of support workers, entertainment and essential medical equipment, but with treatment plans and the needs of families always changing, it’s become very clear that a huge amount of work is needed to be able to best serve the inspiring staff, children and their families.
Sadly, children diagnosed with cancer or leukaemia can often receive treatment for up to three years, or even longer in the case of a relapse, but Rainbow Ward’s facilities and the overall feel and environment are sadly not where they should be, with the current set up severely lacking in many key areas.
Imagine being given the most devastating news imaginable about your child’s health, having to face complex treatment plans and the most grave of worries, then having to use a shared bed room whilst undergoing treatment. With the world falling apart, and your child’s health in danger, one thing you would want as a very basic requirement is privacy and dignity, but currently Rainbow Ward has a number of shared units that sadly compromise families’ needs, considerably, in so many ways.
Sadly, many children on treatment need to be in isolated units to ensure they either don’t pick up or spread an infection which could have severe impacts for themselves or others, and this can mean that other beds in a shared room are lost which has an enormous knock-on effect. Equally, at present, many patients don’t have access to en-suite shower facilities which is a basic need and something we take for granted; Rainbow Ward doesn’t currently have the appropriate number of en-suite facilities for rooms, adding stress and inconvenience to families at a time when the slightest extra pressure can often make them buckle.
From speaking to doctors and nurses, it’s been established that the layout of the ward is both impractical and inconvenient for health care workers to give the best treatment possible. Just picture months and months spent on the same ward, and that ward having facilities and décor which is tired and outdated, making for a dark and unwelcoming environment for families who spend huge amounts of time in one place. It’s been proven that the look and feel of a space can have a considerable impression on experiences, and LATCH wishes to leave no stone unturned to make Rainbow Ward stand out as a premier example of how an oncology ward should look and feel in the 21st Century.
Following consultation with stakeholders at every level of the Children’s Hospital for Wales, state of the art plans for the ward have been drawn up which include the creation of extra single-unit beds to give back families’ dignity and privacy and to enable the ward to cope better with infections and the regular need to have a child placed in isolation. Plus, a new, large playroom is planned, with a family room directly opposite to enable families to completely break away from the stresses and strains of the ward.
The expected cost of this upgrade is a staggering £650,000 to help achieve the exacting standards required of such a huge undertaking, with a further £20,000 needed every single year in order to maintain and enhance the revolutionary technology that will be the icing on the cake of this most important re-drawing of the entire ward.
The whole ward will receive a radical facelift with new flooring, equipment and ambient LATCHmosphere lighting, and gone will be the days of poorly designed offices and working areas for staff who will all be based in the centre of the ward to be able to respond to the needs of the children more effectively, especially those needing more intensive care.
At present, there is a waiting room that is little more than a broom cupboard, but this will become much bigger, more friendly and welcoming for anxious children and parents with interactive LATCHmosphere lighting which children can adapt and play with. This ambient, mood enhancing lighting will extend throughout the beautifully designed environment, which will radically transform this beloved ward.
Put simply, this essential undertaking, which is so much more than an upgrade, cannot come soon enough and will have very tangible and long lasting impacts on both children’s treatment outcomes and their general wellbeing and mental health while they’re already going through one of the most difficult times imaginable, and it is only possible thanks to donations from people up and down the country.
Jade Morgan, LATCH General Manager commented: “Rainbow Ward is so unique in that children might spend weeks or months in total isolation from the outside world with no chance to see friends, schoolmates or family. The addition of private rooms means the ward will be able to cope with the numbers of children receiving intensive treatment without them encountering delays to their treatment plan or even having to go to different wards or sites within Wales, as has been the case in the past.”
She continued: “The entire ward is in need of much more than a facelift so we’ve got a mammoth task ahead with a complete redesign with a high spec finish and so many additions including ambient lighting and state of the art technology and much more which will mean the world to families who will be able to have the most comfortable and enjoyable experiences possible during such emotional times.”
Nicola Joshua, mum of William who is currently receiving treatment for a brain tumour commented: “William has spent so much of his early years on Rainbow Ward, and I know that when he’s in isolation his surroundings are vitally important for his wellbeing. There’s no doubt that an overhaul of the ward is long overdue as it’s currently feeling outdated and dark. The privacy of a single room for us, with beds where a parent can stay overnight too is paramount when we’re feeling emotional or even for little things like sleeping when others might be chatting or having a visit from a doctor. I’m certain that our experience, and the experience of other families like ours, will be so radically different when the ward receives this overhaul and I’m so grateful to LATCH for making it happen.”
This essential upgrade of Rainbow Ward will only take place with your help, and every single penny raised will go directly towards helping children with cancer or leukaemia from across Wales receive the treatment they deserve, in an environment they deserve.
You can donate to LATCH’s Rainbow Ward Upgrade Campaign here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/rainbowwardcampaign