Helping young people through play   | Our news

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Helping young people through play  

Three young women sitting at a table playing a board game

A new board game available in Barts Health hospitals aims to improve the experience of young people transitioning out of paediatric care into adult services.  

Pictured, left to right: Sarina, Renee and Ayanna, members of the Barts Health Youth Empowerment Squad forum, trialing Bridge game.

For many young people in long-term paediatric care, the prospect of moving away from a team of doctors, nurses and therapists they have known for many years can be daunting. However, when young people are involved in planning, they can build a better, less intimidating picture of what comes next in their care, and feel more confident about their future.   

Bridge Game, developed thanks to Barts Charity funding, is a physical and online educational game designed to equip young people, their families and carers with information that can help them explore key aspects of their transition in care, starting between ages 11 and 13.   

Nandi and Ayanna are 21-year-old twins and part of the Barts Health Youth Empowerment Squad (YES) forum, a group of young people who meet monthly to discuss the issues young people face in hospital. 

Nandi was hospitalised and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in November 2016, moving to adult care services in 2021. After the service transition Nandi helped to test Bridge Game, playing it with her sister Ayanna. She said:    

It’s a great way of explaining the concept of transitioning to adult services. Playing the game together would have been a good way to educate my sister, Ayanna, on what it means to transition, and the processes I was going through.

I’d definitely recommend it to young patients to prepare them and make transitioning to adult services a less daunting concept and experience.

Interventions like Bridge Game could help to start conversations earlier by engaging young people in play and involving them in questions around their care and individual health condition.  

Neil Fletcher, Roald Dahl Clinical Nurse Specialist for young adults at Barts Health, who developed the game, said:  

Healthcare transition pathways need planning and should be individualised to meet the needs of young people. In the NHS, we need to begin having these conversations by the age of 13 at the latest. Doing this, empowers young people and their families to take control of their health condition and health needs.  

However, sometimes these conversations may seem unnerving and scary. The board game introduces an element of fun offering a safe space for young people to explore these important discussions.

Four of the physical board games are now available at the Barts Health Knowledge and Library hubs, with one available at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, The Royal London Hospital, Newham Hospital and Whipps Cross Hospital, alongside a customised online portal for use by staff.   

Bridge Game has been developed with Focus Games, leading experts in game-based learning in healthcare. Future plans for Bridge Game will see it go into commercial production through Focus Games.  

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Visit Young Barts Health to find out how we're providing safe and compassionate care to children and young people. 


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