A care worker at Airedale Hospital has created unique face masks for children visiting the hospital to help them feel at ease when attending appointments.

Strict safety protocols are currently in place at Airedale for patients and staff to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. This led Healthcare Support Assistant, Sharon Cole, to design the child-friendly masks after she saw worried children entering the hospital for their appointments.

Sharon was already making adult masks for friends and family and used the proceeds donated from these masks to design and make child-friendly face masks, which include images of unicorns, dinosaurs and plenty of colour.

Mary Nightingale, Children’s Outpatients and Outreach Manager at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, explained how the mask helped a particular patient to feel at ease.

8-year-old Filip Oleszczur, from Keighley, chose his mask last week when he arrived for his appointment which Mary believes helped Filip through his appointment.

Mary said: “Filip was really anxious when he arrived to have a blood test.  He was wearing a surgical mask when he came and chose this spotty one from a choice of masks that Sharon has made. He and his mum said it was much better than the surgical one and he liked the spots!  He was very impressed with staff nurse Katie Hunter too who took his blood test as it didn’t hurt!”

Mary also believes the child-friendly masks change the atmosphere of the visits for younger patients. She said: “We know that it might feel different coming into the hospital environment at the moment and we want our youngest patients to feel happy and safe.

“We’re only able to allow one family at a time so we can maintain social distancing and follow guidelines, and then when they come into the clinic and see all the staff with masks on and their parents with masks on, it all looks very different to them.  If we can let them choose a fun mask instead of a surgical one, then we hope it makes them happier about their visit.”