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Liverpool boy wins national award for sensory work at Alder Hey

2 months ago

Liverpool boy wins national award for sensory work at Alder Hey
Credit: Alder Hey

A 13-year-old boy has won a national award for working with a Liverpool hospital to make visits as easy as possible for children with learning difficulties.

Lewis Wright, from Litherland in Sefton, won the Child Hero award at the 2024 NHS England National SEND Awards for introducing sensory boxes to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

Sensory issues are problems relating to processing information from the senses like sight and sound.

Lewis, who has Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder and other health needs, worked with clinicians to walk through the children’s hospital to see where the biggest sensory issues were for young people before coming up with the idea of sensory boxes.

Lewis’ sensory boxes are filled with various materials like caps, sunglasses, fidget toys and ear defenders to stimulate the senses.

Lewis with his Award
Lewis with his Award

Since the introduction of the sensory boxes, parents say they feel like they now have more time to talk to clinicians about their child’s care instead of needing to get in and out as quickly as possible.

The Trust has also introduced ear defenders and sunglasses for children and young people with sensitivity to bright lights and noise while more waiting areas have been decorated to provide a sense of calms and reduce sensory inputs. 

Learning from Lewis’ hospital walkthrough will now be shared across hospitals in Cheshire and Merseyside, while Lewis has also been asked to see what improvements could be made at his school. 

Everton-fan Lewis said: 

“I hope that by helping to make a change, less children will struggle in the hospital environment like I did. I want all children to get the best out of their appointments which means better outcomes.”

Monica Wright, Co-Chair, SEND and Strategic Lead at Sefton Parent Carer Forum – and Lewis’ mum – said: 

“A hospital can be distressing for a child but for children with sensory issues this is massively amplified. Lights, noise, sounds, smells, textures, people and busyness and often waiting for your appointment can have a big impact on a child with sensory issues.

“I’m extremely proud of Lewis and the work he has done with Alder Hey for other children. It’s something that’s really important to him and will make a huge difference to other children and their parents and carers.”

Lisa Cooper, Director of Community & Mental Health Services at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: 

“Congratulations to Lewis who is such as deserving winner of the Child Hero Award. Lewis is a brilliant example of how important the views of our children and young people are to us at Alder Hey. 

“Without Lewis supporting this work it wouldn’t have had the positive impact that it has had on children and young people.  Lewis is an exceptional young person who is an active and valued member of this project and is kind, caring, committed and passionate about making a difference to health services for children and young people. 

“As part of this project Lewis also presented to the Alder Hey Trust Board regarding this work; his experience of Alder Hey and the changes we have made and the resulting positive impact for children and young people.

“It is a privilege to know Lewis and I consider myself very fortunate to have him as an active member of this work, as he is making a real difference to how children and young people access health care services.”

Lewis' Award
Lewis’ Award

Simon Banks, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Learning Disability and Autism lead, said: 

“We want all patients across Cheshire and Merseyside to have the best possible experience when they visit their local hospital, regardless of what additional needs they might have. 

“This is a wonderful example of how working together with those who use our services can make a big difference to our patients’ experiences.”

While hospitals may be overwhelming for Lewis, the 13-year-old says he feels at home at Goodison Park watching the Blues.

Lewis, whose favourite player is Scottish right-back Nathan Patterson, added: 

“I feel comfortable at Goodison Park because I have a focus watching 11 men in royal Blue. 

“I think this season we’ll finish outside of relegation… but only just! No matter what happens, I love my Everton. Come on you Blues!”

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