The European project "VoiCEs" in online and aims to listen, using an online questionnaire, to the "voices" of children and adolescents during their hospitalization, and obtain their feedback on the experience. The results of the questionnaire - which went online in November in three European countries - will be made available in real time to hospital staff. This will make it possible to define further improvements in children’s and adolescents’ health care, in the short, medium and long term.
Four pediatric hospitals in Europe are participating in the "VoiCEs" project (Meyer Hospital in Florence, Children's University Hospital in Riga, Latvia, Helsinki University Hospital in Finland, Erasmus MC Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands), together with Sant’Anna School and UNICEF Italy. The European Children's Hospital Organization, the Italian Association of Pediatric Hospitals, the Picker Institute of Oxford are involved in the European project. These institutions will participate in the dissemination of results at European and local level.
Patients and their family members are informed about the survey during the admission procedures and receive a link via e-mail or text message to access the online questionnaire that will remain available for 30 days. The questionnaire differs accordingly to the different age groups of the hospitalized patient, from 0 to 17 years. For example, a parent will have to fill in the questionnaire for children up to 3 years old, while older children and adolescents will be able to answer questions adapted to their age directly.
The following macro areas were identified as the center of the evaluation, after consultations involving 100 medical and support specialists, psychologists, representatives of patient organizations and family members: understandable and clear communication; empathetic, polite, friendly and respectful attitudes; patient involvement in decision-making on treatment issues; hospitalization and services; discharge from the hospital, including clarity of information on the continuation of the treatment given to patients and the family members who care for them.
High-quality healthcare, taking into account the views of girls, boys and adolescents as patients, as well as equality and non-discrimination, is one of seven areas defined by World Health Organization (WHO) standards for patients' rights in children's hospitals. In addition, Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that children and adolescents must be heard in all matters that concern them.
"The questionnaire at the heart of 'VoiCEs' will allow girls, boys and adolescents to share their experience through an age-appropriate tool and, for the first time, their point of view will be collected simultaneously in different European countries. This offers the opportunity to compare pediatric patient-reported indicators, share improvement strategies and learn from good practices, to improve the quality of care tailored to girls and boys, in a way that they themselves identify”, explains Sabina De Rosis, researcher at Sant'Anna School and coordinator of the project.
"The collaboration with other pediatric hospitals was an extraordinary opportunity to identify the most suitable tools for the detection of the hospitalization experience, starting from listening directly to the voices of children and adolescents. We hope that the new VoiCEs questionnaire, which has been online at our hospital since November 15th, can represent a further step forward for the Meyer University Hospital along the path taken in 2018 with the PREMs survey, relating to the experience during hospitalization", highlight the managers of the VoiCEs project of the Meyer hospital.
"One of the pillars of UNICEF's work is to ensure the active participation of children in all aspects of their lives. The VoiCEs project focuses on listening to children at a time when they are particularly vulnerable: in a hospital setting. Being able to collect these experiences directly from them will be an important contribution to the goal of improving global care for children and adolescents, and not just focus on the health-related outcomes," said Carmela Pace, President of UNICEF Italy.
The "VoiCEs" project is carried out with the support of the European Commission. For further information: https://voicesproject.eu/