“We can help staff understand the things that are important for younger patients” – Interview with Josei Kobayashi from our Children and Young People’s Council
Josei Kobayashi, 15, is one of the founding members of our Children and Young People’s Council at St George’s. The council was established in January 2021 as a way for patients aged 10-18 to have their say and help improve our children and young people’s services.
We met with Josei to understand more about why he wanted to join the council and the important work they do with our children’s services team.
Why did you first get involved with the council?
“I was an inpatient at St George’s a few years ago, and I still attend for outpatient appointments. When I was asked to join I thought about my experience here and the things I thought could have been improved.
“When you’re a patient though you don’t want to complain and come across as ungrateful. By joining the council, I thought I could give my constructive feedback and help to improve the patient experience for other young people.”
What are the things you’re passionate about improving for patients?
“Food was a big one for me. It’s understandable if patients can be fussy about the food they eat in hospitals, and my mum frequently went to M&S to pick up food for me, so I was really interested in seeing what difference the council could make when it came to patient meals.
“We recently did patient food tasting sessions and saw behind the scenes how it is prepared. This gave us the opportunity to suggest ways the menu can be improved.”
How do you work with staff at St George’s?
“We hold monthly meetings where we can raise any concerns or issues about St George’s, and discuss it with Rachael [Bolland, Nurse Consultant in Paediatrics]. She listens to us and will then come back to the Council with ideas on how these can be addressed.
“We have met with one of the Trust’s Consultants in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, as well as Jacqueline Totterdell, the Chief Executive, to learn more about their roles.
“We’ve also helped interview new nurses by sitting on the interview panels and asking a few questions. For instance, we’ve asked candidates what their favourite animal is and what are its qualities you admire, or how would you handle a panicky situation.
“This was a very interesting experience for me – not only did it help me learn about what it’s like to interview for a job, but I think we can help staff understand the things that are important for younger patients.”
Tell me a bit about your work on the Adolescent Room at St George’s?
“The room was due for a redesign and I was asked if I could share some ideas on a few changes. As I couldn’t go in person due to Covid, I was sent pictures of the room. I suggested some new wallpaper, adding some inspirational quotes from the likes of Einstein and Marilyn Monroe, and letting in some more natural light.”
Why do you think it was important for improvements to be made?
“Being in hospital as a patient can get very boring, and sometimes you need to have a quiet space where you can wind down and relax with other children. There’s a PlayStation as well that helps to make it a cool place where teenagers can hang out.”
Why do you think younger patients should join the council?
“I would encourage other young people to join the council and share any feedback with St George’s. Lots of people have had the experience of being in hospital, and know how it can be better. The most important thing is patient experience and the more people we have to share their views, the better it becomes.”