Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Alder Hey Children’s hospital is one of our largest project to date. When we first spoke to the team, they had been looking at ways of using technology to provide distraction and entertainment. However they needed help in selecting the technology as well as creating a unified feel to work for all children.

We started by looking at the history of the hospital and worked with local children to design a set of characters. These characters would be owned by the hospital and could be used however and wherever they wanted. Because the characters have their own backstory and each one has their own personality they can be used to explain different elements of hospital life such as diet, physio exercises and medical procedure

Alder Hey Children's hospital
Alder Hey Staff with Hardleeys

The characters have featured in bespoke digital games and installations, vinyl designs and linear video.

We were asked to create content for 4 discrete areas of Alder Hey hospital:

  • The OPD (Outside Play Department),
  • The surgical In- Patient and Out-Patient waiting areas
  • The Ward Play areas. Each area had specific requirements.



The Challenges

The OPD games and activities needed to be weather–proof. This required us to work closely with the landscape architect to design suitable housings for the touch screens. For the surgical waiting areas the challenge was to create a range of age appropriate activities to keep the patients and their siblings occupied for what could potentially be a long period of time. The activities included a range of touch screen games for tablets and large touch TV screens for children of all ages. We designed and built motion tracking games and a large augmented reality installation to help with infection control. And for the very young children we designed a soft play area as well as a story area featuring linear videos. The stories were specially written, featuring our characters and presented by well known celebrities.

Alder Hey In-Patient Waiting Area
Alder Hey In-Patient Waiting Area

For the older children we created a ‘chill out space’ with wall art designed by the patients as well as video games and their own streaming music system.

For very anxious children and those with additional needs we supplied a whole series of gentle films cut to calming music available on a portable device so they can be viewed anywhere in the hospital.

The long white corridors, linking the waiting areas to the theatres, were not child friendly and in some cases added to patient anxiety. To help combat this we created a totally immersive experience combining decorative wall art as well as a soundscape. Our countryside walk has been a huge hit with both the staff and patients. The artwork also includes visual games allowing opportunities for further distraction.

For the Ward Play areas we worked closely with the Play Therapists and Physiotherapists. We created a series of interactive randomised games and activities to encourage the children to become mobile following their operation.

Throughout the design and execution process, we worked closely with the Alder Hey staff making sure that we made the best use of our resources and most of all, that they got the best value for their money.

All artwork for Alder Hey hospital was created by Luella Jane Wright.