Technology Adding Quality to Young Lives

Tue 30th May 2017

Image of Technology Adding Quality to Young Lives

Assisted Technology is very special equipment. It is designed for children and young people who struggle to operate computer systems in the same way that you or I might. At Butterwick House Hospice assisted technology is making a big difference to the lives of some of our young visitors.

We try to offer the children and young adults as many fun, stimulating and fulfilling experiences as we can. When it comes to technology there are some wonderful pieces of equipment that bring joy and entertainment to patients.

However, it takes time to research the items that are available and of course as specialist equipment it all comes with a huge price tag that is very difficult for a charity such as Butterwick House to afford. In today’s world we rely very heavily on the advantages that modern technology offers us in so many areas of life. We want to be able to offer our young patients the enjoyment and stimulating interaction that can be gained through using modern computers and interactive programmes.

Some of the young people who come to Butterwick House are severely challenged with disabilities caused by their illnesses. We need technology that is inclusive and that offers opportunities for everyone to enjoy. This is where the charity LifeLites comes to the rescue. LifeLites provides technology packages to children’s hospices. Their work and generous donations to Butterwick House has enabled many young people to experience the joy of controlling a computer or other interactive technology that they don't normally have access to..

One such young person is 5 year old William Young-Dagg from Stockton. William is a very bright little boy with a happy nature. He is one of 5 children in his family and loves to spend his time at the Hospice interacting with his favourite programmes and games on the large touch screen monitor and the ipad that is loaded with colourful interactive programmes.

William is unable to speak but his fingers move like lightening as he gives instructions on the screen. He copies some of the movements of the games characters and clearly loves being in control of the characters on the screen. The assisted technologies at the Hospice have been provided by the charity LifeLites whose aim is to raise funds to provide specialist accessible technology for children and young people who use a children’s hospice.  

William loves the interaction between him and the staff as they work through special programmes together. They enjoy the stories the interactive programmes offer and often dance to the music. As the care team member opens each programme William’s task is to make the characters interact and carry out the actions he wants them to do just at the right moment.

The fun that William has interacting with the care team and the computer helps to build good therapeutic relationships. Although William is unable to speak he is able to let the care team members know what he wants to play with whenever he visits and it is always the computer or ipad that he loves most.

Helen McIntyre is a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse at Butterwick House who regularly helps William to enjoy playing with the computer. She told us: "William enjoys lots of programmes and interactive games such as Chalkboard, Painting programmes, Pokemon and Bob the Builder."  

LifeLites have also installed programmes to help the care team create more interesting materials for the children to take home with them, such as montages of photographs taken on a day out. These help the care team to create happy memories of a child’s stay at the hospice for parents to treasure. Without the support of LifeLites, Butterwick would not be able to provide such stimulating and creative technology packages for our young patients to enjoy. We are really grateful to LifeLites for the work they do to raise funds to enable these packages to be provided and for all the research they do into the latest assistive technologies that make such a difference to the quality of the time the children spend at Butterwick House.