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Poetry in motion: nurse’s sweet prose for kids turned into a book

Critical care nurse Phoebe Coghlan started writing poetry about five years ago to help reassure children visiting their loved ones in intensive care

Critical care nurse Phoebe Coghlan started writing poetry about five years ago to help reassure children visiting their loved ones in intensive care

A poem written by a critical care nurse to help reassure children visiting loved ones in intensive care has been turned into a book.

Phoebe Coghlan never intended to write children’s poetry, but when she started putting pen to paper five years ago, she found it was a great escape from the intensity of her job in critical care.

Nurse’s poetry became a form of therapy

‘I just put pen to paper one day and started jotting things down,’ she told

Critical care nurse Phoebe Coghlan started writing poetry about five years ago to help reassure children visiting their loved ones in intensive care

Critical care nurse Phoebe Coghlan (inset) with her children’s poetry book, Visiting Hospital, illustrated by Kseniya Shagiev
Critical care nurse Phoebe Coghlan (inset) with her children’s poetry book, Visiting Hospital, illustrated by Kseniya Shagiev

A poem written by a critical care nurse to help reassure children visiting loved ones in intensive care has been turned into a book.

Phoebe Coghlan never intended to write children’s poetry, but when she started putting pen to paper five years ago, she found it was a great escape from the intensity of her job in critical care.

Nurse’s poetry became a form of therapy

‘I just put pen to paper one day and started jotting things down,’ she told Nursing Standard.

‘It became a form of therapy, from being in the hospital and being surrounded by so much chaos all the time to coming home and writing some nonsense for five-year-olds.’

‘The most reassuring thing about it is the pictures and also the fact that the poem talks about being asleep and in a dream world, so it helps to break down what the children are seeing’

Phoebe Coghlan, critical care nurse and author of poetry book Visiting Hospital

Now one of her poems Visiting Hospital has been transformed into a children’s book illustrated by Kseniya Shagiev to help youngsters cope with the trauma of seeing loved ones in ICU.

Inspired to write rhyme after witnessing children trying to wake up patients in a coma

Nurse Phoebe Coghlan was inspried to write the rhyme after witnessing ‘heartbreaking’ scenes in ICUs
Nurse Phoebe Coghlan was inspried to write the rhyme after witnessing ‘heartbreaking’ scenes in ICUs

She said the poem came about when she was asked by a colleague to pen something for the major trauma unit at St Mary’s Hospital, where they both worked.

She was inspired to write the rhyme after witnessing ‘heartbreaking’ scenes including youngsters trying to wake up patients who are in a coma or unwell.

‘We get lots of quite young patients and also patients with young kids, so I wrote the poem to introduce children to the hospital environment in a gentle way,’ Ms Coghlan, who works in intensive care in Norwich and London, explained.

Ms Coghlan, who qualified as an adult nurse in 2015, said she hopes children feel comforted after reading her book.

Key messages are about love, care and reassurance for children, says nurse

‘The most reassuring thing about it is the pictures and also the fact that the poem talks about being asleep and in a dream world, so it helps to break down what children are seeing,’ she added.

Nurse Phoebe Coghlan hopes children feel comforted after reading her book
Ms Coghlan hopes children feel comforted after reading her book

‘Children are so used to seeing adults as figures of authority so I think it’s completely traumatising for them to see their relatives in that state.’

After first being published by patient support charity ICU Steps, the book is being used by London’s Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare Trust and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals.

She added: ‘It’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve written because it’s so difficult to strike that balance between putting in the information that needs to be there and making sure it’s not completely terrifying.

‘The key message is all about love and care, and reassurance that all the noises and wires are there to help that person get better.’


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