Poems for Children

What Is POEMS?

POEMS is an acronym for Positive Outcome and Experience Management Strategies. The concept behind POEMS is to design, develop and deliver management strategies that allow practitioners to achieve a positive outcome and experience in a given situation.

What is POEMS for Children?

This one day course is unique, innovative and the first of its kind. The course introduces management strategies that allow practitioners to effectively reduce anxiety in children and achieve a positive outcome and experience for the child affected.

Why is the advent of the POEMS For Children course so important?

Up to 80% of children admitted to hospital with chronic illness experience anxiety from hospitalisation alone. Between 50 and 75% of children having surgery experience anxiety in the anaesthetic room. This means that in a major paediatric institution such as Great Ormond Street Hospital in London that admits 22,000 patients and completes 15,294 operative procedures per year (figures for 2007/8), up to 17,600 children experience clinically significant levels of anxiety at some point in their admission and up to 11,470 children experience peri-operative anxiety.


It has been shown that anxiety directly increases the perception of pain for any given stimulus, can adversely affect immune function and prolong the healing process. Increased anxiety in surgical patients has been shown to cause a statistically significant increase in post-operative analgesic requirement, nausea and vomiting and lead to a prolonged recovery time. In children, the presence and degree of peri-operative anxiety is directly linked with the appearance and magnitude of post-operative dysfunctional behaviour. Between 24 and 60% of children will display dysfunctional behaviour within the 3 weeks following surgery. This takes the form of eating disorders, problems sleeping, nightmares, temper tantrums, bed-wetting and problems with authority. Between 4 and 12% of children continue to display these patterns of behaviour one full year following surgery. This is an incredible number of children experiencing significant morbidity as a direct consequence of the anxiety they experience. By using the figures above we can put this into perspective. This means that within a single major paediatric institution, over the period of one year, up to 9,176 children would experience significant anxiety related morbidity within the 3 weeks following their surgery and up to 1,835 of these children would still be suffering after one year.

So, if we know that the number of children experiencing anxiety is high and the consequence of this anxiety is significant, what is already being done about this problem and what further action needs to be taken? When you consider the numbers involved, it is immediately obvious that only a small proportion of these children are being managed by psychologists, psychiatrists and play specialists.


These teams play a vital role as part of the multi-disciplinary approach to managing the problem and they are extremely effective in tackling complex and severe cases. They are a valuable but limited resource and from a practical and economic perspective can only be utilised in caring for a small number of children affected. You may then ask yourself who is looking after the vast majority of cases that are left. The answer is simple - YOU ARE. This might appear to make little sense. Applying the figures we have from the feedforward surveys from POEMS courses to hospital staff in general, it emerges that more than 50% have no formal training in the management of anxiety in children, while of the rest, less than 5% have received anything more than the occasional lecture on the subject.

So what is the solution?

We believe that the number of children affected is so high that the only solution is for every practitioner involved in the care of children in hospital to have a core competency in anxiety management. This would mean that every member of staff would be trained to identify, manage and potentially prevent anxiety in children under their care. Every member of staff that a child comes into contact with from the moment they step through the hospital doors would be able to significantly reduce the morbidity experienced by that child.


If multiple members of staff, all part of a multi-disciplinary team equally adept with respect to the management of anxiety are caring for the child, the experience and medical outcome for that child will be dramatically improved. Every interaction with members of staff would then represent an opportunity for that child - an opportunity to drastically improve the quality and outcome of their treatment and significantly reduce the emotional pain and morbidity they experience.

The inception of the POEMS For Children anxiety management course finally makes this goal achievable. The course will allow us to achieve this goal by making practitioners aware of the problem, by making practitioners aware of the consequences of anxiety and by offering practical techniques to allow the effective detection, management, reduction and prevention of anxiety in children receiving medical care. The potency of the management strategies introduced on the course hinges on the careful selection of skills and techniques from multiple areas of therapy and practice including hypnotherapy, psychology and psychiatry amongst many others, with subsequent integration of the techniques within a structured, dynamic and patient centred approach. The skills and management strategies gained from the course dove-tail with, complement and enhance the skills the practitioner already has.

Is the course approved by professional bodies?

The course is approved for 5 CPD points

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