By Karin Plummer
Social Communications Officer
Pain in Childhood Special Interest Group
Monkey Wellbeing provides a series of storybooks and activity guides for children to help improve the health and welfare of primary-aged children. These storybooks encompass such health challenges of having an operation, a blood test, injections and managing asthma. There are also activity books related to visiting the emergency department and starting school. All of these story and activity books feature a toy monkey in the starring role as a hospital patient. Monkey is depicted in real hospital environments with equipment and machinery that children can be expected to see when faced with a visit to hospital. The aim of the Monkey Wellbeing series is to help children know what to expect when visiting hospital so it is not too scary an experience. The storybooks and supporting materials have been widely adopted by the National Health Service and schools in the United Kingdom.
Jane Williamson, the Program Manager for The Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service (PICS) in Victoria, Australia, undertook a review of the story and activity books relevant to hospitalised children. This statewide cancer service for children encompasses two large metropolitan cancer centres in addition to formal shared care paediatric services in nine regional centres throughout Victoria. After reviewing the Monkey Wellbeing story and activity books, Jane thought that these resources could address the challenge of providing evidence based care to children in health care settings where paediatric services are without such resources, or the funds to develop them. Furthermore, using the already developed Monkey Wellbeing resources would permit families to access information in a cost-effective, timely and effective manner.
One of the greatest challenges in treating children with cancer is the management of pain and distress related to the prolonged and repetitive nature of medical procedures during their treatment. There are two story books available that address medical procedures: “Monkey has a blood test” and “Monkey has an injection”. These storybooks are a great resource for health services that do not have a formalised procedural pain service dedicated to reduce distress and anxiety associated with medical procedures. The storybook “Monkey has an operation” is also a useful resource for many of the paediatric health services within regional hospitals providing surgical care. The booklet explains to children what to expect during an operation could go a long way to alleviated children’s anxiety about this experience.
With thousands of emergency presentations of children to regional centres, the “Monkey visits the emergency department” is a useful activity guide focussed on preparing children for what happens in the emergency department. Packed with stickers, a pop-out ambulance, games and pencils this is a great education tool to use with young children before they actually need to present to an emergency department. Monkey Wellbeing has lots of accessories to support the story and activity books. There is a Monkey hand puppet that can be used for role playing with children. There are also stickers that help facilitate a sense of accomplishment for children.
Thank you Monkey Wellbeing for the opportunity to review these excellent resources that help to normalise the experience of hospitalisation for children. Thank you also to Jane Williamson for her consideration of the Monkey Wellbeing resources.