Roslyn Neely: Why we took the '˜sick' out of Sick Kids
In 2015 I was lucky enough to be invited to visit a camp for children with serious illness, as our charity had funded a number of places. For many it was their first time trying adventurous or new pursuits, such as drama or abseiling, while surrounded by encouragement and the notion that they are capable of anything.
As I pulled on our charity T-shirt to make my way there, I was struck by the words “sick kids” emblazoned across the front. In a charity which claims to transform the experiences of children and young people in hospital so they can be a child first and their condition or illness is secondary, the name felt out of step.
Soon after, NHS Lothian advised us that the current Royal Hospital for Sick Children would change its official name to The Royal Hospital for Children and Young People when it relocates in early 2018. This reflected not only a move away from the language of “sick” but also the increase in age from 13 to 16 years. We felt that this gave us a positive opportunity to reflect this in our own name and brand. We knew changing our name would be a big decision, so we embarked on a lengthy programme of engagement and consultation with those most closely linked to the charity, to be sure we got it right.
The views of families who benefit from our services were the most influential. Many felt as they faced a move to a new hospital building that the familiarity which our brand could provide would be comforting. The round, red logo with a child and teddy bear was for most synonymous with the charity and the hospital. From feedback, we updated our logo to include an older child with her hand around the younger one’s shoulder.
The new name, Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, we thought, would be a harder sell but immediately those who we tested it with (some 200 families, staff, volunteers and supporters) understood the desire to move away from “sick” and liked the clarity it provided.
We know that some will continue to use the term “sick kids” in relation to the hospital and the charity, at least in the immediate future. However, the overwhelmingly positive response from children, young people and families who use the hospital’s services has demonstrated that this name change is welcomed and appreciated.
We’ve had the great privilege of supporting the work of the hospital for 25 years. Now we look forward to continuing that work with, as one parent perfectly sumed up: “A new name but the same aim.”
Roslyn Neely is CEO of Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity