Efforts to make hospital visits more teen-friendly

KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) is a tertiary referral centre for complex and high-risk medical conditions in children, from newborn babies to teenagers.

Last year, about 15 per cent of all admissions to the paediatric wards were adolescents.

We agree with Miss Jacelyn Chia Yee Fang ("Help teen patients feel more comfortable"; Voices of Youth, May 25). Adolescence is indeed an important phase of life, with rapid physical, psychological, cognitive and social changes in the individual.

KKH recognises this and we have been an advocate for the holistic well-being of adolescents.

Our multidisciplinary team in our dedicated Adolescent Service comprises a variety of professionals, including physicians, nurses, psychologists, social workers and dieticians who are trained in adolescent health to help provide adolescent-appropriate care.

We also continue to train our junior doctors to be well versed in skills to care for adolescents in both hospital and community settings.

We fully recognise that it is important for our team to engage in respectful communication, understand the needs, respect heightened sensitivities and aim to be accessible and non-judgmental in our approach to the health concerns of these growing individuals.

This is apart from providing an adolescent-friendly physical space when interacting with these individuals.

In order to provide our patients with an environment that is conducive for their treatment and recovery, every effort is made to ensure that patients admitted under the Adolescent Service are housed in the same location.

This will hopefully provide our patients with better comfort in their surroundings during their hospital stay and, where possible, enable greater peer interaction.

Activity therapists are also engaged to provide adolescent-appropriate activities, such as mindful art, books on teenage fiction and creative craft activities. A dedicated Adolescent Activity Room is currently in the hospital plan.

These initiatives have been viewed favourably, going by a recent survey of our adolescent inpatients.

We will continue to engage our patients as we work on providing an adolescent-pleasant hospital experience and, more importantly, to improve the health of adolescents in Singapore.

Kumudhini Rajasegaran (Dr)
Head and Senior Consultant
General Paediatrics and Adolescent Service
Department of Paediatrics
KK Women's and Children's Hospital

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2016, with the headline 'Efforts to make hospital visits more teen-friendly'. Print Edition | Subscribe