Sheffield Children’s Sleep Team makes it to national awards shortlist

The Sleep Team at Sheffield Children’s has been shortlisted to receive a Health Service Journal Award for a project that aims to improve sleep for children with sleepless nights. The partnership is known as ‘The Sheffield Children and Young People’s Sleeping Well Project’ and aims to improve sleep in vulnerable children. The collaboration allowed specialists from multi-disciplinary teams to develop well-connected support strategies and benefit from shared knowledge.

With the help of a grant from The Health Foundation Innovating Improvement Fund, Professor Elphick set up a three-way partnership between Sheffield Children’s Sleep Team, The Children’s Sleep Charity, and Sheffield Council’s Children and Young People Services, to investigate sleep issues in children and young people in Sheffield. Interventions, led by trained sleep practitioners, were delivered to families of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as looked after and adopted children. These groups of children are frequently identified as having issues with sleep. Some of the children involved in the study were getting as little as four hours of sleep each night. An intervention with the Sleep Team includes a variety of studies and treatments that are tailored to each case, such as bright light therapy, resetting the body clock, and the introduction of sleepy foods to the patient’s diet.

Professor Heather Elphick said: “the research showed a very positive impact not just in the amount of extra sleep gained, but in the wellbeing and quality of life for the whole family. The partnership between the Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the City Council will lead to significant improvements in the way we can support children with sleep problems in the future.”

The Sleep Team at Sheffield Children’s has grown rapidly within recent years as it supports children and their families who have disturbed sleep patterns, in addition to diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. They also work closely with other teams at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust including Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and the Ryegate Children’s Centre. Studies show that up to 40% of children have sleep issues and it’s estimated that across the UK sleep deprivation costs our economy £40 billion each year. When a child has difficulties getting to sleep or staying asleep it results in sleep deprivation, not only for the child concerned, but often for other family members. The impact of exhaustion on health is wide-ranging and affects physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

The project was headed by Professor Heather Elphick, Paediatric Sleep and Respiratory Consultant at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. Working on the project alongside Professor Elphick were research sleep physiologist, Ruth Kingshott, and specialist sleep nurse, Janine Reynolds.

Sheffield Children’s is one of ten finalists for the Health Service Journal Award ‘Improved Partnerships Between Health and Local Government’. The HSJ is a news service which covers the British National Health Service, healthcare management and health policy. At their annual awards ceremony they celebrate and recognise the outstanding work of individuals and organisations in the NHS. On 10 October, the Sleep Team and the local authority will attend the next stage of judgements to be reviewed by a panel in London. This will be followed by an awards ceremony on 21 November that will reveal the winners.