Children’s Advisory Council
What is the Children’s Council?
The Children’s Council is a platform where children get together with hospital staff to discuss issues that concern them. The Children’s Council is made up of patients, former patients and brothers, sisters and friends of patients. They all visit the hospital regularly and so have a good idea of what it’s like and how things are done. They’re in a good position to describe their personal experiences and to make suggestions for making hospital stays more pleasant and comfortable. As they greatly value the views of the Children’s Council, the Executive Board and the staff of the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital listen carefully to what the Council has to say.
What’s the point of a Children’s Council?
Everyone who works in the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital is keen to make sure that the time children spend in hospital is as pleasant and comfortable as possible. For this reason, it’s logical that the children should themselves be encouraged to say what they feel is important and what can be done to make them feel at home in the hospital. That’s the point of the Children’s Council.
What does the Children’s Council do?
The Children’s Council meets about five times a year to discuss anything about which the members think there is scope for improvement. Things like:
- The food in the hospital: the Children’s Council believes that hospital food should look attractive and taste good, and that children should be able to eat together with their families.
- Communications with doctors and nurses: children need to be able not only to understand everything their doctor says, but also to tell the doctor whatever it is they have on their mind. Clear communication is key.
- Decoration and furniture: you should feel you’re in agreeable surroundings when you’re in hospital. The Children’s Council thinks about ways of making wards and treatment rooms more pleasant and comfortable, for example with the help of artworks, toys or music.
The members of the Children’s Council discuss topics like these, come up with suggestions and solutions and pass on their opinions to the Executive Board. In some cases, the Executive Board may ask the Children’s Council to think about a particular issue. In other instances, the members of the Children’s Council join forces with a group of staff to work on a big idea.
These are some of the topics that have come up for discussion in the Children’s Council in recent times:Workshops at Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital:
- Information and distraction during medical examinations and treatments: inevitably, some forms of hospital treatment are not very pleasant. The Children’s Council believes that children should be properly prepared for any examinations or treatments they may find unpleasant. The Children’s Council also believes that children should be provided with suitable forms of distraction during such examinations or treatments.
- Surroundings: the Children’s Council has given plenty of thought to the question of how to ensure that children of all ages experience their wards, waiting rooms and treatment rooms as pleasant places to be. While many rooms have been decorated in styles suitable for young children, for whom there are also plenty of toys, it is a fact that a large number of teenagers are also treated at the hospital.
- Eating together: thanks to the efforts of the Children’s Council, children admitted to hospital are now able to have breakfast together with their parents. The next step will be to enable parents to join their children for their evening meals (in return for a fee). The Children’s Council would also like to see all the children on a children’s ward being invited to eat together from time to time.
National event for all Children’s Councils
The Children’s Council at the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital is one of many in the Netherlands. In fact, over 20 such councils are active in a range of hospitals and rehabilitation clinics all over the country. Once a year, all the Children’s Councils get together to share their experiences and ideas with each other, learn from each other and discuss topics that have featured prominently on their agendas during the past year. The Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital hosted this year’s national event, which was held on Saturday 16 November.
The main theme during this year’s event was ‘information and distraction during medical examinations and treatments’. Organised jointly by the Children in Hospital Foundation, it was a special occasion this year as it was almost exactly 30 years ago to the day that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed. The Convention sets out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children (who are defined as any human beings under the age of eighteen). The Convention has been ratified by just about every single country in the world, who are bound to its provisions under international law.
What have we achieved?
A number of alterations and improvements have already been made thanks to ideas and suggestions from the members of the Children’s Council.
- Last year, the hospital staged monthly workshops for children of different ages. These centred on topics ranging from music and dance to creative expression, sport, cooking and multimedia courses. The Children’s Council was closely involved in planning these workshops.
- Thanks to the efforts of the Children’s Council, parents who use the rooming-in facilities are now able to have breakfast together with their child.
- The Children’s Council also helped to design an educational (and fun!) interactive quiz about how to ensure that a child feels both comfortable and safe during his or her stay in hospital.
- The Children’s Council has welcomed the initiative to form ‘joint care teams’ at the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital. A joint care team is made up of a child being treated in hospital, together with their family and all the staff members involved in their treatment. The idea is for doctors and nurses to get together at regular intervals with the child and his or her parents to draw up a treatment plan for the next few days. It means that both children and their parents form an integral part of the treatment team and are equal partners in terms of providing the necessary care. Please note, though, that these meetings are additional to the routine meetings with the physician treating the child, which they are not intended to replace.
For more information see the special video.
Who are we?
The Children’s Council is made up of:
- Dewi-Jill van den Heuvel (chair)
- Aymon-Jae van den Heuvel
- Berend van Donkelaar
- Dali Rosbach
- Emma Oudenaarde
- Fauve Heres
- Feline Hees
- Frida van Rosmalen
- Jasmijn Fiering
- Juul Bal
- Loubna Ettaheri
- Parel Bras
Annelies Blom, Nicole Ackermans and Vivi Buijs are members of staff at the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital who are there to assist the members of the Children’s Council.
In the media
Why not join us?
You can join the Children’s Council if:
- you are aged between 8 and 18;
- either you are a patient at the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital or you have a brother, sister, another family member or friend who is a patient.
You can apply by filling in the contact form below. You will be contacted either by the chair of the Children’s Council or by one the staff members. Please explain in brief on the form why you wish to join the Council. You should include your name, date of birth and address, and let us know whether you are a patient at the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital, or whether you have a brother, sister or other family member who is a patient.
If you’re not quite sure about joining, you can always come along to one of our meetings to see what they’re like. The chair can help you decide whether or not you wish to join. Membership of the Children’s Council is a voluntary activity. In other words, you do not receive any form of payment apart from travel and parking expenses.
Contact the Children’s Council
Please feel free to send us an email if you have any ideas or suggestions that would benefit children in the Erasmus MC Sophia Children’s Hospital. Please fill in the contact form at the bottom of this page, and you will be contacted either by the chair of the Children’s Council or by one the staff members.
Please contact the Children’s Council office if you have any comments or questions.