Children’s Allergy Psychology Service moves into charity run boutique hotel on Lambeth Palace Road!
For the last two years Action Against Allergy has been funding an innovative new service for Guy's and St Thomas's Children's Allergy service – a dedicated psycholgist to help children with serious food allergies, and their families, to deal with the emotional stresses and strains that living with serious food allergy can bring with it.
You can read all about the service in the article that Dr Polly James' wrote about the service last year; here she tells ActionAgainst Allergy about the new home that AAA's ongoing funding has allowed them to move to.
We are very excited to announce that the Guys and St Thomas’ Children’s Allergy Psychology Service is able to run their fortnightly psychology workshops at beautiful charity run boutique hotel Ronald MacDonald House on Lambeth Palace Road. It’s a fantastic hotel for parents with children in intensive care that has a wonderful large room with sofas, toys, a mini kitchen and a lovely garden, which is ideal to run the workshops. All of this thanks to Action Against Allergy who have very generously funded the room hire for a year.
Children’s Allergy Psychology Service
Since the start of the Children’s Allergy Psychology post in February 2015 the service has developed and delivered psychology workshops specifically for children and young people with food allergies. The workshops aim to help children understand the role of feelings and worries in relation to allergies and develop good coping skills and strategies to manage difficult emotions.
It is also an opportunity for children to meet and share experiences with each other. Supporting children to follow strict diets, being vigilant and proactive about what they eat and need to avoid, as well as communicating with school, friends and family about what is safe is understandably very stressful for parents. This year the psychology service has also started to run fortnightly parent workshops and parallel parent sessions in conjunction with the children’s groups.
These workshops have been developed collaboratively with parents known to the allergy service and with each group a different topic is discussed. The topics are based on the common themes and challenges identified by parents such as ‘improving communication with schools’, ‘How to manage feeding difficulties’, ‘Preparing for skin prick tests and food challenges’ and ‘Managing anxiety and parenting strategies’.
The workshops are a huge success and there is an increasing number of children and their families being referred. Self-rating scales are used to record children’s levels of confidence in understanding and managing allergies and anxiety before and after the group. Children and their parents also completed satisfaction measures and the very positive feedback shows that it is an acceptable and effective treatment for children. However, there is an ever increasing amount of pressure on room availability in St Thomas’ Hospital to hold these groups and until recently most of the sessions have taken place in meeting rooms surrounded by clinics and medical equipment. And even those rooms are difficult to book with very limited availability.
People friendly home in the Ronald McDonald House
At the beginning of the year a new space at Ronald MacDonald house was made available for St Thomas’ Hospital to book. The last two groups have been run at the house as a pilot and the families and children have given incredible feedback about the venue saying how helpful it is to meet in a non clinical setting and how much it helped the children to feel more relaxed and happy to talk about the allergies.
Action Against Allergy have now made it possible to continue running the groups in this wonderful location for the rest of the year. This is incredible news for both the children and their families attending the workshops and the families who stay at the hotel. We look forward to a summer of workshops in this space and there has even been talk about an end of summer party to celebrate.….
Watch this space!