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Joining the Dots – Child Friendly Healthcare in Hospitals

21 June 2018

Joining the Dots Survey Results

The Children’s Hospital Group Board and the Ombudsman for Children’s Office are pleased to launch the results of the survey Joining the Dots: Connecting voices for child-friendly healthcare in hospital.

Joining the Dots has been an exciting opportunity to hear, for the first time, from children and young people receiving care and treatment in the three hospitals about what they feel is working well and where there is room for improvement.

Joining the Dots is a joint initiative by the Children’s Hospital Group Board and the Ombudsman for Children’s Office with the three children’s hospitals – Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital and the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght University Hospital – to hear the views of children, young people, parents/guardians and hospital staff on the delivery of services to children and young people in hospital.

This joint initiative sought participants’ views on a range of issues that relate to children’s rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and different rights that children have in healthcare settings, including hospitals.


The results of the surveys completed by children, young people, parents/guardians and hospital staff will help the children’s hospitals to identify what changes could give children and young people a better experience of being in hospital. The survey results will also support ongoing work to plan and design paediatric services for the new children’s hospital and two paediatric outpatients and urgent care centres at Connolly and Tallaght Hospitals.

The Joining the Dots survey took place in the Emergency Departments, Inpatient Departments and Outpatient Departments of the three children’s hospitals between July and August 2017.  In total, the participants were;

  • 2,530 children (aged 6-11 years)
  • Young people (aged 12-17 years)
  • Parents/guardians
  • Hospital staff and management

The surveys were distributed by staff in each of the three children’s hospitals and by Children in Hospital Ireland volunteers.


Welcoming the publication of the results, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon said: “Joining the Dots is an innovative initiative because it is the first time in Ireland that children and young people have been asked for their views as service users on a wide range of issues relating to their rights in hospital settings.”

Dr Muldoon continued;

“The results of the Joining the Dots survey provide a welcome indicator of the quality of acute paediatric healthcare services in Dublin: we now have a much clearer picture of what is working well and where there is room for improvement. Joining the Dots is a child-centred quality assurance tool and I warmly welcome that the Children’s Hospital Group is working with the HSE to examine the feasibility of implementing this initiative in acute paediatric services outside Dublin.”

Commenting on the results of this first survey of acute healthcare services for children Eilísh Hardiman, Chief Executive, Children’s Hospital Group said;

“We wish to thank all who made this survey possible, with a very special thank you to those who provided their invaluable insights into our health services. This feedback will become the backbone on which we will shape our design for acute paediatric services delivery.”

The CEOs, Directors of Nursing and clinical staff from the three children’s hospitals also welcomed the results of this initiative and said;

“We would like to acknowledge how important these results are to all our staff and services. We will work hard to identify and implement the vital improvements that are in our capability to achieve. Thank you to everyone who made this feedback possible.”

Issues being sought

The wide range of issues we sought participants’ views on were grouped under 8 sections:

  • Getting good quality care
  • Being treated equally and fairly
  • Rest, play, leisure and learning
  • Information and participation
  • Safety and environment
  • Protection
  • Pain management
  • Final comments

The results of the questionnaires highlight a range of good practices as well as signposting areas for potential improvement.

Over 3,000 comments were made by children, young people and parents/guardians. 65% of the comments were positive and 35% of the comments suggested areas where improvements could be made.

Eight out of ten of the positive comments   were about the care delivered by hospital staff to children and young people.

Among the issues raised in comments about room for improvement were: waiting times for treatments and procedures (26%), building infrastructure (16%), parking (14%) and food (9%).

The Children’s Hospital Group is working with the HSE to explore the feasibility of rolling out this initiative in acute paediatric healthcare services across Ireland.  It has also established a Quality and Patient Safety Group which will take responsibility for the development of a quality improvement action plan based on the areas for improvement identified by the survey results.