Described is a case study in which a sixteen year-old, functionally non-speaking young man with severe learning difficulties was supported through a planned spinal operation at Musgrove Hospital, Taunton. The case study describes a collaborative team approach around the young man, which included his family, school nurse, hospital nurses, play therapist, school teaching staff and the school communication specialist.
The young man and his family were consulted in the very early stages of the planning process and, together with Musgrove Hospital, a support package was put in place. The very early planning of this project included a calendar with symbol representation of hospital visits and the expected duration of his stay. The school nurse was involved in making a communication book and a personalised pain chart. The family and the young man's school class were invited into the hospital for 'familiarisation' sessions where they were able to handle replica items of hospital equipment.
All parties involved felt the communication resources had been of significant benefit and the nurses in particular felt the pain chart had been an 'indispensible' tool.
Collaborative work with the hospital continues to develop better resources for young people with communication difficulties.