A special ceremony was held at Airedale Hospital last week to celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished Child Development Centre (CDC).
The refurbishment makes the CDC more accessible, child-friendly and allows privacy and dignity for patients. Changes include automatic doors, new toilets and a lowered reception desk to enable small children and those in wheelchairs to see reception staff.
Alison Rohatynskyj, children’s therapy manager, says “Just simple changes like automatic doors and a lowered reception desk mean that the whole centre is more welcoming for children. Those with mobility issues can get in and out easily, and reception staff can directly address the child rather than just their parent. This is child-centred care which will make a real difference.”
Current and retired staff, along with patient families, enjoyed tea and cake at the event and 7-year-old Aryan Downey cut the ribbon to officially open the new centre. Aryan has been a patient at the CDC most of his life.
Sam Downey, his father, says, “Aryan was born premature at 24 weeks. He had a bleed on the brain which has left him with cerebral palsy and other developmental delays. As a parent it was a scary experience, but the child development centre has been a great place to come and meet other parents and have a good support network. It’s also good for Aryan to meet other children with different needs so he knows he’s not the only one. We’ve always had the support of this great facility, and it’s just good to know they’re here.”
The CDC opened in the early 1980s and was extended in 1989 with the extension being opened by the late Princess Diana.
Invited to the opening ceremony were retired members of staff who were part of the original team who opened the centre.
Prudence Bray worked as a speech and language therapist. She said, “There was a paediatric doctor, Dr Ken Wilkinson, who was passionate about having an area where all therapies could work together, so that a child could be seen and treated as a whole. That’s where the child development centre began, and we had an open plan space which included speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. We then raised money for an extension so there was more space for children – the whole community got involved with fundraising.
“It’s always interesting to come back and see all the changes, and the refurbishment makes it lovely and bright. It’s a place that has many happy memories for me.”
Children aged 0-19 can be referred into the CDC for assessment. The team includes occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, therapy assistants and administrative staff, working closely with the consultant community paediatricians. The children seen in the CDC have a range of disabilities including developmental delay, cerebral palsy, autism, neuromuscular difficulties and a large number of genetic conditions.