RX Radio is one of the first children’s hospital radio stations in Africa involving child patients as producers, reporters and presenters. It had its first broadcast on Saturday 20 May from the brand new studio at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town. RX Radio, by and for children, is a pioneering project that aims to alleviate the stress, loneliness and anxiety that many children face in hospital and improve their experiences of hospital in multiple ways. It will also aid parents, health workers and other children to better understand the experience of hospital and illness and enhance communication.
“While there are a number of children’s hospital radio stations globally, what makes RX Radio unique, is that it involves patients as programme producers and broadcast presenters with the explicit aim of sharing and improving children’s experiences of illness and hospital,” explains Dr Gabriel Urgoiti. The brainchild of Urgoiti and Sue Valentine, the station has been established by working hand in hand with the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Facility Board and the Children’s Hospital Trust.
The R4.8 million project, which will see its first child-produced and child-presented broadcast in two months, is currently being fundraised for by the Children’s Hospital Trust. It aims to alleviate children’s anxiety and loneliness while in hospital, give sick children a platform to share their experiences, concerns and questions with parents, health professionals and other children, help sick children cope better with their illness and its treatment, improve children’s well-being through access to recreational and learning activities and sensitise parents and health workers to children’s experiences of illness and hospital.
“Children have the right to know as much as possible about matters that affect them, to understand and to be involved with their illness and the healthcare provided to them. They need information about the hospital environment and what is expected, their health condition, diagnostic procedures and treatment options, possible outcomes of these treatments, degree of likely pain and discomfort, and above all to be able to ask questions and be reassured of the support and care they will receive from their parents, caregivers and health workers. They also need to be entertained and to have fun,” Urgoiti explains.
Child-produced radio is a rapidly developing field, with preliminary evidence pointing to many positive outcomes for both children and adults. Children in hospital are apprehensive and often experience high levels of tension. These emotions are amplified when, as is frequently the case, there is little communication or consultation with them about their condition, diagnoses and treatment. Research has shown, however, that a child’s comfort in hospital can be significantly improved through access to stimulating, age-appropriate recreational and educational activities.
Urgoiti says, “There is also increasing recognition of the value that a child’s perspective can offer in order to improve hospital environments and experiences for children.”
CEO of the Children’s Hospital Trust, Louise Driver, says, “The Children’s Hospital Trust strives to advance child healthcare through the Red Cross Children’s Hospital and this innovative and empowering project is the ideal platform for this. It gives some control to the children in what could otherwise feel quite a helpless situation. It also, quite literally, gives them a voice. We are so grateful to all of the donors and stakeholders who have made this project a reality.”