Better healthcare experiences for children is the ambition of new international standards

Categories: School of Health and Society

Better healthcare experiences for children is the ambition of new international rights-based standards which have been launched by an international collaboration.

The launch at hospitals across Europe marks the culmination of two years of work by the ISupport group, led by Professor Lucy Bray from Edge Hill University and developed by ongoing consultation with health professionals, academics, young people, parents, child rights specialists, psychologists and youth workers.

The ISupport standards aim to improve the care children receive when they undergo clinical treatment, reduce harm and establish trust.

Professor Bray said: “We would urge health professionals and organisations to do all they can to familiarise themselves with the standards and we hope that they prompt conversations in practice about how we can best support children before, during and after their procedure. 

“We need to do more to make sure every child is supported to have a positive procedural experience and that their short- and long-term best interests are prioritised in all clinical decisions.

“We have learned so much over the last two years, it has been amazing to work with children, parents and health professionals to develop the standards.

“Conversations have sometimes been challenging and sensitive, especially when we are talking about holding children for procedures, but throughout the process children and parents have challenged us to remain child-centred and make sure that the standards work for all children having healthcare procedures.”

Professor Andrew Rowland, Honorary Professor (Children’s Rights, Law, and Advocacy) at the University of Salford and Consultant in Children’s Emergency Medicine at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and who is part of the ISupport collaboration group, said:

“Adopting a rights-based approach to decisions made about healthcare procedures is crucial to the protection and wellbeing of children. The standards developed by the ISupport group show health professionals the best way to prepare and support children if they need a health care test, treatment, investigation, or intervention (procedure). The statements are based on individual’s rights as a child to make sure their welfare is paramount (the most important thing) when making choices and decisions. The statements and rights apply no matter who the child is, how old the child is, where the child lives, whether the child is disabled, what the health professional thinks, who the child identifies as, what the child’s religion is (if any), or how the child communicates.

“These standards will be both clinically useful, for healthcare practitioners working with children; and academically useful in the training of our future healthcare workforce, its leaders, and its educators.

“Families and professionals are invited to share their views on how the standards make a difference through this short online survey, to inform how we take this work forward and highlight the importance of making every healthcare procedure positive for children.”

The ISupport group is now working hard to ensure the standards are used as widely as possible around the world.

Dr Andrew Rowland portrait

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