When you are feeling sick but have no idea how to explain it in words, sometimes an emoji is all you need to get the message across.

And that’s the tool patients at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick are using to communicate to nurses and other medical staff every day.

In August the hospital installed emoji boards behind every bed in the adolescent ward so patients could add different graphical stickers to show how they were feeling.

There are the usual emojis frequently found on smartphones for emotions such as happy, sad, teary or angry, but also some specially designed graphics like wheelchairs and crutches.

The new tool has been welcomed by the young patients.

“It makes it so they know how I’m feeling today and if I’m not feeling well so I don’t have to actually tell them,” 12-year-old Sophie said.

“I mostly use emojis when I’m texting my friends.

“I put the sleeping emoji for today because that’s all I want to do.”

Enhancing conversations

The emoji board concept was a collaborative project spearheaded by clinical nurse educator Maria Brien and a group of regular patients at the hospital.

She said the medical team generally found the adolescent population “hard to engage and communicate with” and so they approached the patients to help them design a better way to kickstart conversations.

– Amanda Hoh

Read more: Sydney Hospital Using Emoji Boards to Help Children Express Their Emotions

Photo source – Flickr.com