Minister Hanafin launches Áit Eile, an on-line network for children in hospital

Posted on: 16 April 2002

The Centre for Health Informatics in Trinity College, supported by its technology partner IBM, has developed an online network for children in hospital called Áit Eile, which will allow young patients to communicate with each other via email, video conferencing and
live chat over a secure Internet connection. The system will also allow
access to child-friendly medical information which will enable them to
research their illness and also locate other children with similar

Research has shown that children in hospital, especially those suffering
from a chronic illness, can experience feelings of isolation, change in
family dynamics, depression and loss of peer interaction. Áit Eile will
offer hospital-to-hospital, hospital to home, hospital to school and even
home-to-home connection allowing parents and children never to be more than a click away.

Through the web portal, the system will provide access to activities and
information, such as arts & crafts, educational opportunities and links to
favourite websites with appropriate content. The security of the system has been a top priority and appropriate solutions have been incorporated into the overall system design.

Launching this system, Mary Hanafin, TD, Minister for Children said
“an initiative like this, gives back a sense of control and empowerment to the children that is so important when they are away from the comfort of their family. It will also help the children make new friends, exchange
experiences and maintain relationships even after they leave hospital”.

Commenting at the launch, Professor Jane Grimson, Director, Centre for Health Informatics and Vice-Provost, Trinity College said “Making use of modern technology can address some of the psychosocial issues affecting children who are long-term patients in hospital by creating a virtual environment which will provide for communication, social support, relaxation and entertainment”.

When fully up and running the project will link six hospital schools in
Ireland – the National Children’s Hospital, in Tallaght, Our Lady’s
Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Cork University Hospital, Temple
Street Hospital, National Rehabilitation Hospital and Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital and The Barrettstown Gang Camp.