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Mum's book helps children shake off their fear of hospital

Front cover of the book

A Port Talbot mum whose child imagined the Covid virus was “like a giant, scary T-Rex” has written a picture book designed to help youngsters overcome their fear of going into hospital.

Bethan Jones, a school nurse with Swansea Bay UHB, has teamed up with Martin Baines, a feted illustrator whose work has been used by the Doctor Who, Beano, Thunderbirds and Wallace and Gromit brands, to create the book called Monster A&E.

Bethan, a mum of three, and a former district nurse, explains: “My son has severe global delay and additional learning needs.

“Throughout the pandemic I have been watching the news and he was always passing comment about what goes on in the hospital and what the virus is.

“Once he learns about something his imagination runs away with him, so he thought the virus was like a big scary T-Rex and if you went outside this T-Rex could get you.

“This worried me so I decided to write the book in lockdown, putting things in a way that he could understand, about what happens in a hospital and why people might need to go there and how doctors and nurses help to make people feel better.

“He has really enjoyed reading it and having the book has helped him a lot. Going into hospital is not fun and games but you don’t want to scare children about going into hospital when it is needed.

“My work with children in schools has shown me that children can be scared of doctors and nurses even if you are just there for a chat with them or to do immunisations.

Prior to my job as a school nurse my only interaction with children and health professionals came from my own experience as a mother.

“Every hospital and GP appointment would fill me with dread as my children all had a horrendous ‘white coat syndrome’.”

The book, which can be found in public libraries throughout Neath Port Talbot, sees a host of monster characters – mummies, witches, Dracula, zombies and ghouls – going to A&E when they need medical help.

The story sees a mummy who has slipped in the loo, a vampire bat with a broken wing and a yeti who has hurt his leg while learning to ski, showing a softer, vulnerable side to scary monsters – all needing doctors and nurses to help them get better.

Bethan says: I wanted to show my son, in a fun simple way that he would understand, what goes on in the hospital environment, and what all the different people who work there do to help us.

An image of the cover of the Monster A & E book “It has really helped my son to see hospital as a place he doesn’t need to be scared of – people there just want to make children feel better.

“I think we can teach children from a young age not to fear health professionals, as they grow up they will feel more confident and reassured about accessing services and the care in which they provide.

“It’s great that the book has been picked up by Neath Port Talbot libraries and by one in Canada, too. I am also working with Pobl’s wellbeing facilitator who is keen to promote it into schools.

“My son loves telling people that his mammy wrote a book for him. I love my job as a school nurse and I hope the book helps lots of children feel better about getting medical care.”

Monster A&E is published by Jelly Bean Books in Cardiff, and by clicking here: https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/942301618/signed-childrens-book-monster-ae

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