Hospital offers early years education to young patients

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A charity has launched what it claims is the first hospital-based pre-school provision for patients in the country.

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From left: Angela Murphy, senior HR business partner at UHS, Anna Rixon, manager at UHS Taplins, Vicky Ansell, Taplins nursery nurse, Caroline Martin, founder and trustee of Piggles Trust, Stacey Bean, Taplins nursery nurse

Piggles Trust, founded by Caroline and Edward Martin from Andover in memory of their late daughter, aims to provide early years education to young patients at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

In partnership with University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s workplace nursery provider Taplins, Piggles Trust Southampton, a fund of Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity, is covering the £24,000 a year required to employ a nursery nurse.

The funding enables a Taplins nursery nurse to go onto wards and work on a one-to-one basis or in small groups with pre-school children. Ten patients have already benefited from the service since its launch in December.

The nursery nurse plans and delivers activities such as painting, storytime and craft activities within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum.

harriet-martinPiggles Trust was launched by Mr and Mrs Martin after their four-year-old daughter Harriet (right), a former cardiac patient at Southampton Children’s Hospital, died suddenly from an unrelated infection last year.

Mrs Martin said, ‘Through these activities, children benefit from the teaching that they would have been receiving in their own pre-school environments if they were not confined to hospital for long periods.

‘Parents have been delighted that their children, who have not been able to attend pre-school in the community due to their health conditions, can feel part of a pre-school environment and value the learning that it provides.’

Dr Peter Wilson, divisional clinical director for women, children and support services at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, said, ‘We are proud to be the first UK hospital to be part of the work that Piggles Trust and Taplins are delivering.

‘Ensuring the overall development of children during their admissions remains a key focus alongside their clinical needs, so being able to offer this service is crucial.’

Anna Rixon, senior nursery manager for Taplins, added, ‘We are extremely proud of the early years education we provide for children who are inpatients at Southampton Children’s Hospital and this groundbreaking project is extremely exciting.

‘Working alongside Piggles Trust, we hope to establish this service as a model of care that can be replicated across the country.’

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