Adam was motivated to join in with this social movement and pledged: "to help ensure children with disabilities receive the best possible care," as he is passionate about encouraging NHS staff to understand his life and that of other disabled children; hoping that an increased awareness will result in improved care. Adam currently receives good care from his local NHS Trust, but in the past has received poor treatment which really upset him. Previously NHS staff, particularly doctors, never communicated with Adam and ignored him when he spoke to them or asked questions.
Inspired by Adam’s story and motivated by an awareness that many young people, like Adam, treated in the NHS feel they are not spoken to directly, an NHS Change Day campaign was launched entitled ‘It’s about me.’ The campaign encouraged NHS professionals to pledge to recognise and talk directly to the patient about their treatment, whatever their age or disability, as well as to their parents or carers. Regional NHS Change Day representative for Yorkshire and Humberside, Kirsty Stott, contacted Adam via Twitter and asked him to be the figurehead for this campaign, which he happily agreed to do and was delighted to be asked.
The “it’s about me” campaign resonated widely with healthcare professionals and stakeholders – with 529 people joining Adam’s personal pledge and more than eight thousand joining the campaign, including Mencap. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health were so moved by the campaign that they made their own pledge: "we pledge to always talk directly to the patient about their treatment regardless of their age or disability,” which had 254 people join.
Adam received a lot of publicity in relation to his pledge: featuring in The Guardian and on NHS Choices and he was also interviewed by BBC Radio Leeds. BBC Radio Leeds gave him the opportunity to answer questions himself – responding using his iPad voice – which moved both the broadcaster and the thousands listening and was a real success for the campaign.
The staff in the hospital where Adam is currently receiving treatment were very supportive of NHS Change Day and his pledge. Whilst most already spoke directly with him about his care, at the height of the campaign’s publicity, some were seen to do so even more. Adam hopes his involvement in NHS Change Day has shown people that disabled children often understand and can engage with staff about their care when allowed to do so and that they should have a voice.
NHS Change Day has helped Adam to share his message and helped to challenge existing perceptions of disabled people within the NHS. Adam gained a lot from his involvement and said it made him feel empowered and valued.
Adam very kindly wrote the poem and made the below film for NHS Change Day 2014. Thank You Adam!