New sensory room to support children in hospital

A calming new sensory room – funded by Bradford Hospitals’ Charity – is expected to transform the experience of young patients with additional needs who come into hospital for tests, treatment and surgery.

The Acorn Room has been created on the Children’s Day Case Unit at Bradford Royal Infirmary to help relax children who become distressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. It is hoped the room, which contains an interactive light machine, projector, music, a relaxing cube light and padding, will provide a sanctuary for children with autism and other additional needs, to help them self-regulate and feel safe.

Senior Sister Claire Hall, who manages the Day Case Unit on Ward 12, said it’s quite common for young patients with autism to become overwhelmed with sensory overload when they are in a new environment.

“We try our hardest to keep the noise and activity to a minimum, but there can be a buzz of activity from doctors and nurses, with trolleys and the observations machine wheeled up and down. For those with additional needs, it can be difficult, so we wanted to create a safe space for them to feel relaxed and calm,” she said.

The paediatric team sought advice from parents of young patients with autism, to find out what facilities would help in hospital. A sensory room was recommended, and it was made possible thanks to funding from Bradford Hospitals’ Charity – the official NHS charity of Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

“The sensory room could really make the difference between an operation going ahead, and the child having a positive experience, and happy to come back for further treatment, or a procedure being cancelled completely. Some children with additional needs can become so traumatised that it’s very difficult for them to return. This room provides them with their own space, where the doctors and nurses can come to them, and where they feel safe and comfortable,” she added.

Bradford Hospitals Charity Director Sharon Milner said: “We are delighted to sponsor this meaningful project for children and their families. Enhancing this room adds so much positivity to the young patient experience.”

This is the latest in a string of projects Bradford Hospitals’ Charity has funded to support children having tests and treatment across Bradford Teaching Hospitals. In 2020, the charity funded upgrades and equipment for radiology services to make them more child-friendly. More recently, the charity has started to fund the Baggins the Bear pathway, which provides a bear and supporting materials for every child coming into hospital for surgery, alleviating stress and anxiety. Since its launch in November 2022, the project has already resulted in a massive reduction in children not attending surgery due to stress.

Anyone can donate to help Bradford Hospitals’ Charity fund Baggins the Bear by visiting

Play Leader Jeanette Sunderland and Charity Director Sharon Milner