What it takes to win at the Advancing Healthcare Awards – More than a radiotherapy mask

Now is the time to submit your entries for the Advancing Healthcare Awards (AHA’s) 2019. As previous winners, Chroma now sponsors an award for ‘realising potential through creativity’.

The winning project last year for the Chroma award was led by Lucy Junni, Paediatric Radiographer at St James Institute of Oncology, Leeds, alongside the creative input of fellow colleague Lobke Marsden. The project ‘More than a radiotherapy mask’ began as a way to make radiotherapy for children and young adults less daunting.

During radiotherapy treatment, a mask must be worn and clipped to the bed in order to keep the patients still. Many children find the mask and the process to be scary and may feel claustrophobic once put on.

Inspired by a photo of a painted mask previously seen in America, Junni, Marsden, the mould room technicians, clinical oncologists, staff working in planning and the radiographers at St James Institute of Oncology, agreed that introducing these masks for radiotherapy treatment was a great idea.

The mould room technicians provided Marsden with little squares of orfit material, the material used for making the radiotherapy masks. She painted every square in a different colour in different thicknesses, which were then tested for safety, to ensure it wouldn’t interfere with the radiation dose.

The first patient to try the new mask was a 4 year old boy who loved Spiderman. Marsden painted the mask as Spiderman and the little boy was actually excited to go for treatment. In fact, he went dressed as Spiderman! This was the moment the team knew they had made a change for the better. The 4 year old boy was not nervous or anxious about treatment – he was just looking forward to his Spiderman mask.

Since then, Marsden has painted numerous masks, most of which are superheroes, which she feels helps the child to feel strong and brave, just like the character painted on their mask.

The radiotherapy department also treats young adults, up to the age of 25. Young adults also appreciate the masks, as it helps them to feel they have some choice in their treatment. Treatment plans tell them when to have treatment and where, but the distraction of thinking about the mask design gives patients back a feeling of control, to the point where again, the mask no longer feels clinical, but just like their own mask.

To this day, Marsden has painted over 60 masks and continues to do so. Through social media, more radiotherapy centres around the world have also adopted this practice resulting in many more positive radiotherapy experiences.

This project reflects the high standard of work that is recognised at the AHA’s and expect the same in 2019. If you are another outstanding healthcare professional, inspiring change within the healthcare sector, remember to submit your entry to the AHA’s soon.

Enter the: Chroma award for Realising potential through creativity at the Advancing Healthcare Awards here: The submission deadline for entries is 17:00 14 January 2019.