New digital meeting place for children and adolescents at hospitals

Games and other digital experiences will help hospitalized children and adolescents make new friends and improve their hospital experience.


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Picture: Primliminary sketch of one of the games in augmented reality (AR) 

It can be difficult for children and adolescents to be hospitalized, especially for longer periods of time. Surveys from the Committee on the Rights of Children, among others show that they feel isolated, need someone to talk to and they often do not exercise enough.

To help the children and adolescents get a better every day at the hospital, the project organization behind Children's Hospital Copenhagen, are developing a new digital universe, "Isolation Breaker". The universe will consist of games and other digital experiences. Kikko Henriksen, Project Manager at Isolation Breaker, explains:  

- The child or the adolescent can check-in to the digital universe through an app on their smartphone or tablet and choose different digital experiences, targeted to their interest and needs. Some of the ideas are that they can decorate the hospital walls with trees and flowers, catch butterflies in the patient room or put on a pair of digital glasses and run down the hospital hallway, shooting down spaceships. This will open the possibility for the patients to meet in real life and maybe get new friends, who can make their hospital stay better, she says.

The digital meeting place is a supplement to the physical surroundings such as the youth café, HR Berg at Rigshospitalet. Break the Isolation also offers the possibility for experiences of a more meditative kind, which the patients can choose when they wish to be alone. Children's Hospital Copenhagen has just hired two companies that develops video games, Khora, Serious Games Interactive and the software company Trifork Public, to help develop the final content.

Easier to connect with siblings

The project will also make it easier for siblings to keep in contact with each other while one sibling is at the hospital for a longer period:

- Good relationships helps children and adolescents to better cope with longer periods of illness. We also know that the patients often miss the everyday life with their siblings, and that siblings would like to help but find it hard because they can't always be physically present. The digital experiences can help them keep contact and share experiences together. This also applies to classmates and friends, says Kikko Henriksen.

Something else to talk about

Break the Isolation can also help the dialogue when patients and peers meet.

- It can be difficult and depressing for the children to chat to someone their own age about the experiences such as getting an injection or an operation they have had at the hospital. But with Isolation Breaker we can give the children and adolescents some bright moments that they can share with others, says Kikko Henriksen.

Break the Isolation will be an offer for kids and adolescents with cancer at Rigshospitalet, but the plan is to extend the project to other patient groups and hospitals in the country.  The first version of the universe will be ready for tests at the hospital children's departments in the fall and the final version will be finished in the beginning of February 2020.

FACTS "Isolation Breaker"

The Danish Cancer Society has donated 2,5 mil. Kr. to Isolation Breaker.

The project builds on the technology Augmented Reality (AR) an interactive experience of a real-world environment.

The project is currently doing surveys with patients and staff about their needs for a digital experience.

Isolation Breaker is part of a larger focus on a playful approach to both treatment and design of Copenhagen children's Hospital, that opens for patients in 2025.






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