Stay up to date
Subscribe to our newsletter to hear our latest news and updates.
Our Family Support Programs continue to provide a safety net for families who are being cared for by the Women’s and Children’s Health Network (WCHN). In the past year, over $120,000 has assisted more than 130 families to receive immediate help at a time when they needed it most.
We work in collaboration with the Hospital’s Social Work team to identify families experiencing hardship due to the impact of their child’s illness. The Programs assist families from all walks of life, including those from regional areas, meaning that the impact of the Foundation reaches families from across South Australia, Northern Territory, Broken Hill and the Sunraysia Region of Victoria.
Family Support Programs assist families with the costs related to a child’s hospitalisation or ill-health with items such as emergency transport, accommodation, groceries, maintenance of medical equipment to use at home, and utility bills.
We support the amazing Play Therapists at the Hospital through our Arts in Health program.
Play Therapists are health professionals who work with patients and their families to minimise the anxiety, stress and trauma associated with being unwell and in hospital.
Their role doesn’t just involve kids playing with toys. They also provide distraction to minimise stress and fear, prepare and support patients for procedures, give emotional support, provide clothing and toiletries in emergencies, connect children to their home life and schooling, contribute to a vibrant hospital environment and create positive, fun and meaningful experiences.
Their goal is to allow children to ‘feel what they feel’ and give them a safe space to communicate this.
We have substantially invested in Play Therapy, increasing the number of Play Therapists from five to 11 full-time positions. Thanks to the ongoing generosity of loyal supporters like our Big Hearts regular donors, we’re able to support these roles well into the future.
Play Therapy time is one of the few times in hospital where kids get to make their own decisions. In hospital, treatment is often managed and directed by adult medical clinicians who direct when and how things will happen – whereas play is the time that patients get to choose what they want to do and take charge.
We launched our new community fundraising event, Challenge 21, with massive success!
Challenge 21 is inspired by the Roberts Family (pictured) who have been fundraising for 16 years in memory of their son, Sam Roberts. Last year, in celebration of Sam’s 21st birthday, we launched the inaugural event so that anyone, anywhere could take on any challenge to support sick kids.
Over 400 challengers pushed themselves out of their comfort zone and raised over $221,000.
We are continually inspired by the stories of our Challengers. Hearing from people currently being cared for by the Hospital, those who had survived illnesses or injuries, those whose family members had been cared for and those who had sadly lost loved ones and were completing their challenges in their honour.
Money raised from Challenge 21 has supported the Hospital’s Palliative Care Service, Burns service and other initiatives across the WCHN.
Having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) can feel isolating and scary. We’ve funded a project that recognises the importance of Parent and Family-Centred Care (PFCC) to develop and improve family connections and resilience during these stays and to facilitate a confident transition home.
Part of this project includes the placement of Sharon Sands, a PFCC Representative who supports families on their Hospital journey. Her role is to embed families’ feedback into tailoring service delivery.
Baby Rylee (pictured), was born at 28 weeks and was cared for in NICU and SCBU. Her mums, Megan and Jess, felt supported by Sharon which helped to ease some of their worries.
This year we provided over $630,000 for life-changing medical equipment and services like this.
Having a premature baby wasn’t the ideal start to parenthood, but it’s been so helpful to have Sharon. You can feel a bit isolated in here, so having her support is great. It’s nice to know someone is there for us.
This year, over $750,000 from donors has helped to encourage creativity, promote wellbeing and reduce distress in patients through our Arts in Health program.
Part of this program includes our regular coordination of four art galleries in the Hospital. These ‘Heart Galleries’ provide patients and their families spaces of distraction and entertainment, helping to alleviate stress.
With support from the Art Gallery of South Australia, we exhibited the work of five Indigenous artists in ‘Mirdilyayanthi – to Shine Bright’ as part of Tarnanthi festival.
Many of these artists spent time at the Hospital as children and wanted to give back by sharing their work with patients currently cared for by the hospital. 19-year-old former patient and Ngadjuri artist Grace Bennett (pictured), said, “My paintings within this exhibition represent how encouragement, support and family allowed me to ‘Shine Bright’ in my painting and aspirations.”
In the unfamiliar sounds of a hospital, reading aloud to children helps to normalise the environment and has a calming effect for patients and their families.
Three-year-old Theo (pictured) spent over two weeks in the Hospital with a broken leg. To help make the time a little easier, he was visited by Book Buddy, Chris, who picked him the perfect book which served as a great distraction.
The Book Buddies project is a joint initiative of the WCH Foundation and Hospital School SA, with expertise from the members of the Children’s Book Council of South Australia. Qualified book readers visit the wards to encourage reading, improve literacy skills and provide a distraction for patients.
Through our Arts in Health program, we provide books for patients to keep each time a Book Buddy visits, which they can enjoy for years to come.
Our Book Buddies are retired school librarians and teachers. Their combined wealth of knowledge and experience provides the young people with readers who can bring books to life, which is a nice pause or distraction.
Our Laklinyeri Beach House has continued to be a special place of togetherness for families to reconnect or to take time out of their rigorous hospital routines to relax and recuperate. It is a purpose-built holiday facility for families who have a child in Palliative Care or Complex Care, as well as for bereaved families.
For many families like the Clothiers (pictured), even a simple holiday can be difficult to facilitate. Sole parent, Kym, was delighted to holiday with his two daughters and 12-year-old son, Jett, who is under the care of the Hospital’s Palliative Care Service. A wheelchair user, non-verbal and legally blind, Jett requires significant round-the-clock care.
Kym invited Jett’s carer to stay in the carer’s suite. This meant Jett received the care he required and enabled Kym to spend quality time with his daughters too.
This year, over $250,000 helped families create special memories at the Beach House.
As a single dad, it can be hard to give all my kids the time they deserve. We’re so grateful for the opportunity to stay together with all the equipment and support in one place.
Kids across the WCHN are ocean diving with sea creatures, snuggling kittens at cat cafés and relaxing at the beach, all during their healthcare appointments!
Thanks to our corporate partners Coles and Curing Homesickness, we purchased ten new Smileyscope headsets. Smileyscope is a medical-grade Virtual Reality goggle used as a non-pharmacologic aide for pain and anxiety management. It also has wellness and mindfulness content and deep breathing exercises for relaxation and wellbeing.
Using VR for paediatric patients has been found to reduce a child’s pain by up to 60%.
Jeanette Tininczky, WCHN Manager Telemedicine, explains, “Our clinicians tell us that they have been particularly helpful during needle-based procedures, including COVID vaccinations, and those that cause children some anxiety, such as dressing changes or fracture care.”
“We’ve noted the VR headsets have reduced anxiety in our patients and have helped reduce the amount of time taken for some of these procedures.”
Breast milk can protect babies from ear infections, vomiting, diarrhoea, chest infections, and asthma. However, some mothers of preterm infants can face challenges initiating and sustaining breastfeeding within the Hospital prior to taking their baby home.
Breastfeeding rates in babies born late preterm are lower than those born at term.
We’ve funded research by Dr Amy Keir to establish improved breastfeeding support for women with late preterm babies to increase these rates. The multidisciplinary team includes Lactation Consultants Susie Jones, Laura Summers and Jess Ramsay.
The research has shaped a greater understanding of the challenges families and healthcare professionals face in providing breastmilk to babies born early and how to overcome them.
This study is one of many we have supported, with over $600,000 invested in medical research this year.
Preliminary results show that the project has already positively impacted clinical practice with the development of improved sustainable systems and is showing improvement in breastfeeding rates of babies on discharge from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
The Out of Home Care (OOHC) Clinic at the Hospital provides health assessments and reviews for children and young people under the Guardianship of the Chief Executive Officer of the Department for Child Protection (DCP). The clinic has relocated to a quieter spot in the Hospital, and we helped create a more welcoming and calming space at this new location with the purchase of much-needed furniture, toys, books, iPads, and sensory aids.
‘Gift bags’ have been created to acknowledge the incredible bravery shown by many of the young people who attend the clinic, a sensory calming room has been furnished for young consumers who may find the usual waiting room overwhelming or who may need some time away from a difficult discussion, and iPads have been purchased for distractions.
Together, these resources have allowed staff to create a service which better responds to the physical and emotional needs of their vulnerable consumer group.
Child and Family Health Service (CaFHS) provides a key role in the screening of infants and children at over 100 locations across South Australia, from Mount Gambier to Coober Pedy and everywhere in between.
The service completes approximately 11,000 preschool health and development checks each year. As part of these checks, vision screening is imperative in identifying issues that are detectable and treatable. Early identification and treatment of eye and vision problems aims to optimise vision prior to starting school and reduces the likelihood of permanent vision loss.
We have funded 122 Kay Picture Test vision screening books – the ‘gold standard’ for vision assessment of four- to five-year-olds. Children engage in the fun ‘game’ of identifying the book’s pictures from a distance to test their eyesight.
The books are significantly more user friendly and more age-appropriate than the previous charts used and are highly accurate and readily portable.
The vision screening books will support a more user friendly and best practice screening approach for the early detection of vision problems in young children. They will support referral for further assessment and treatment if required before a child starts school.
The Paediatric Emergency Department (PED) at the Hospital will soon be receiving a new Fluoroscan® Imaging system.
This machine helps children with small fractures be managed in the PED, avoiding admission and going to theatre. It is generally used for imaging during closed reduction procedures where the fractured bone is set without surgery. The small machine allows the clinician to see that the bone is aligned in the right place, allowing it to grow back together and heal correctly.
This purchase was made possible thanks to a generous gift from the estate of Raymond Beale. Gifts like this, left in the Wills of our most kind-hearted supporters, have contributed over $1 million this year. Each and every dollar is a valuable investment in the health and care of our patients and families, both today and in the future.
Thank you to our generous community who have ensured we can continue to support our Women’s and Children’s Hospital and its associated Health Network.
Together, we can improve the health and wellbeing of women, children and their families.