The ARCHIE Foundation will officially open a new state-of-the-art children’s facility at the GMed centre in Aboyne on Saturday after successfully reaching their fundraising target of £25,000.
GMed centres are spread across the North-east of Scotland and are the facilities that allow local residents to access out-of-hours care from a GP or nurse.
In Deeside this is run out of the Aboyne hospital for patients from Banchory, Aboyne and Ballater as well as surrounding villages.
In 2009 the ARCHIE Foundation were approached by the management team of the GMed service for assistance. The team reported that the clinical care was achieving very high standards but the environments were often unsuitable for children and especially young children when they were sick.
After a detailed assessment, the ARCHIE Foundation agreed to fundraise almost a quarter of a million pounds to refurbish all eight centres across Grampian to make them more suitable for the treatment of children whilst, at the same time, not making them unsuitable for the adults who also use the space.
ARCHIE Director of Fundraising, David Cunningham, said: “The big challenge for us was to create spaces that were calming and relaxing for children of all ages as the GMed centres see all children needing out-of-hours care after a referral from NHS 24.
“In Deeside, we wanted to create an environment that helped the GPs quickly diagnose the child’s condition and allow them to reduce the amount of time the child even had to be there for. There are obvious benefits in this regardless of whether the child needs to be admitted to the Children’s Hospital or they are sent back home to bed.
“Given that the North-east also has a slightly unusually circumstance in that it has a high number of families with a parent working off shore, we also had to consider the potential for lone parents arriving with the sick child and their brothers and/or sisters and therefore the need to keep the siblings calm so the GP and the parent can focus on the sick child was also taken into account.
“Finally, we had to remember that the children wouldn’t normally be there for a long time and the temptation to put in too many toys and other distractions had to be avoided – we didn’t want parents to have problems trying to get their children to leave the centre!”
The approach adopted by the ARCHIE Foundation across the North-east has therefore been to appoint artists and designers to work with local children and local staff to create bespoke designs for each unit.
The designs incorporate items of play and distraction but it is the designs themselves that actually work as a calming and engaging activity.
The new GMed centre in Aboyne aims to be much more welcoming and friendly in appearance allowing children and their parents to be put at ease.
The designs in the waiting room appear, at first glance, to be of an evening scene over local forests but put yourself at a child’s height and take a closer look and all sorts of little animals can be found.
In the treatment room in Aboyne, inspired by local children talking about their journeys to the hospital, there is a night-time scene but again, closer inspection shows some interesting star constellations – including one of ARCHIE the bear himself.
In total, the GMed service sees roughly 30,000 children every year across the North-east of Scotland.
Although Aberdeen, Elgin and Peterhead see the bulk of these children, the Deeside centre remains busy and the ARCHIE Foundation hope that now, thanks to this local fundraising effort driven by the Deeside Friends of ARCHIE, when local children do need out-of-hours care from their GP it will be a lot less daunting for all involved.