In October of this year, the unique project “VoiCEs” has ended, within which two years ago four children’s hospitals – Children’s University Hospital in Latvia, Meyer Children’s Hospital in Italy, Helsinki University Hospital in Finland and Erasmus Hospital in the Netherlands in collaboration with the Sant’Anna School in Italy, the UNICEF organization and the European Children’s Hospital Organization, introduced a specially created digital tool for collecting the views of children and adolescents in hospitals. Project was created with the aim of strengthening children’s rights during hospitalization, taking into account their opinion about what they experienced in the hospital. After the end of the project, the survey will be continued in the implemented hospitals and the results will be used with the aim of introducing the necessary improvements so that children, adolescents and their relatives have the most positive experience in hospitals.

The target group of the project “VoiCEs” is represented by children aged 0 to 17, and the survey is adapted to different age groups. As part of the project, hospital patients – children and young people, as well as their parents – were interviewed to find out topics relevant to children and include them in the survey questions. For children who cannot read yet, the parent has to fill in the questionnaire, while older children and adolescents are able to do it themselves. Summarizing the results of the interviews and involving around 100 medical and support specialists, representatives and psychologists of patient and family organizations, blocks of the following seven topics were created, which are asked to the respondents in the form of questions within the survey: Clear information, communication, and support for self-care; Effective treatment delivered by trusted professionals; Emotional support, empathy and respect; Involvement and support for family and carers; Attention to physical and environmental needs / Comfort, Continuity of care and smooth transitions / Discharge; General satisfaction.

The survey was conducted after the patient was discharged from the hospital and, according to the collected information, on average half of the patients of involved in the project hospitals took a part in the survey – 41% of the children and 50% of the children’s parents answered the questions. The results of the survey obtained during the project allow to conclude that, in general, children and parents of the children in Europe are very satisfied with their experience in the hospital. Both children and their parents the most value understandable and clear communication in the hospital – this is stated by more than 90.1% of the surveyed children and 88.8% of the children’s parents. The surveyed patients also equally positively evaluate the effective treatment process provided by reliable professionals (88.2% of children and 90.2% of children’s parents). At the same time, the opinions of children and their parents differ regarding the such experiences gained in hospitals as empathic, polite, friendly and respectful treatment – this is positively assessed by 85.2% of parents, but relatively less (75.6%) by children. The level of comfort in hospitals is also evaluated differently – 85.7% of parents and 75.6% of children rate the stay in the hospital and convenience there positively.

“We embarked on a groundbreaking journey, breaking down geographical boundaries and language barriers, to collect the voices of children, teenagers, and their guardians across multiple countries. For the first time, we employed a standardized tool that was thoughtfully designed to cater to the unique needs and preferences of children. The public disclosure of children’s evaluations of hospital services will not only shed light on areas for improvement but also inspire innovation within healthcare organizations, ultimately leading to a more compassionate and responsive healthcare environment for our young patients. Our vision is to lay the foundation for a European, and perhaps even a global, observatory dedicated to monitoring and improving healthcare for children and adolescents, ensuring that every young patient’s voice is heard, valued, and acted upon,” says Sabina De Rosis, the Assistant Professor of Sant’Anna School.

The project is implemented with the support of the European Commission.

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The VoiCEs Project is co-funded by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020) (REC-RCHI-PROF-AG-2020

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