Asthmanauts are go!

Asthmanauts are go!

Dominic Fenn, Thomas McLeod, Malik Fleet, Colette Datt and John Moreiras


Children and young people (CYP) with asthma have a right to have appropriate health care information1. Asthma remains the most prevalent long term childhood disease and the commonest reason for urgent admissions to hospital in England2. Yet the achievable goal of freedom from asthma symptoms is still not being met in many CYPs3. Providing effective asthma education is associated with reduced morbidity & reduced hospitalisations4


  1. To provide an informative and engaging, CYP-friendly, educational resource for asthma. 
  2. To enhance the understanding and knowledge of CYPs with asthma.
  3. To engage parents with a CYP-friendly resource for asthma.

Progress made: What have you learned from doing this?

An educational booklet called Asthmanauts with superhero characters was coproduced with CYPs aged 4-10 years. The child becomes the hero defeating space villains (see picture below) with their inhaler rockets  Captain Blue – salbutamol and Commander Brown – beclomethasone .  Please follow link below for full booklet.

The booklet was trialled in 2 paediatric outpatient asthma clinics. A questionnaire was given to 16 CYPs before and after reading the booklet to assess its impact on their awareness.  Parents were also asked if the booklet enhanced their child’s knowledge and whether they would recommend it. 

What we found:

  • 16 children and their parents participated: 11 males and 5 females; mean age = 6 years old
  • The CYPs showed a 14% increase in understanding of key terms including triggers, reliever and preventer inhalers with the grea
    test impact on trigger understanding.  
  • 87.5% of parents found the booklet enjoyable to read with their children; 
  • Over 90% found it useful in furthering their child’s understanding and would recommend it to other parents of children with asthma.

This pilot study has shown that CYPs engaged with and improved their knowledge of asthma through reading the Asthmanauts resource.  It was commended by health professionals and patients while being engaging and enjoyable.  Below are some quotes from parents after reading the booklet:

“Brilliant to look at with children, often given stuff that goes straight in the draw this would go on kids shelf”

“Great to give names to inhalers – perfect for child and parent interaction”

“My child loved the pictures and references to space. Really informative with out overloading on information for children” 

We are currently in the process of distributing  the booklet. It is now available on line at…

Asthmanauts has been great fun to produce. We hope to have created a booklet that engages children encourages them to learn more about their own condition.  Our results show that Asthmanauts has a potential role in empowering CYPs to better understand and manage their asthma symptoms. 

What’s your take home message?

We hope that Asthmanauts will inspire others to create or modify patient information leaflets that engage and children in their own health care.  Producing a patient information leaflet may appear simple, however, taking an original idea to a finished project has not been without its difficulties and challenges. Here are our ideas to what has helped us make Asthmanauts a success.

  1. Belief in the concept – This may seem obvious, however being passionate about the project gives it drive and incentive to over come obstacles. 
  2. The right team – We were lucky to have help from some excellent people, surrounding yourself with enthused people is not only beneficial for the project but also inspires creativity and can also lead to other projects and ideas (watch this space for future projects)
  3. Involving your audience – Partnering with children has not only been great fun but hugely informative it is they who have ultimately help shape and guide this project and help create Asthmanauts.


(1) Unicef RRSA Standard 17. The Four Standards of the Rights Respecting School Award [Internet]. 2015. [Accessed 26 February 2018]; Available from:

(2) Childhood asthma, Why is it important? NHS England [Internet]. [Accessed 10 October 2017]; Available from: 

(3) Why asthma still kills. The National Review of Asthma Deaths (NRAD) Confidential Enquiry report. [Internet]. 2014 [Accessed 30 October 2017]; Available from:

(4) Coffmann JM, Cabana MD, Halpin HA and Yelin EH. Effects of Asthma Education on Children’s Use of Acute Care Services:  A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics. 2008;121(3):575–86.



Key contacts

 Connecting Care for Children – Beatrice Liddle , Rianne Steele, Jennifer Davidson

Afsoon Sepahzad, Rocio Rodriguez Belmonte

Mando Watson, Caroline Scott-Lang


Parents engaged with the Connecting Care for Children Patient Academy expressed a desire for evidence based advice from professionals on infant health topics.

The Children’s Health For Life (CHFL) pilot was free to all, co-designed with parents and delivered by a multidisciplinary team of child health professionals through local children’s centre. The pilot delivered four workshops covering; Baby Resus, childhood illnesses, infant nutrition and growth, and infant development and safety. The programme is comprehensive yet fully adaptable to the specific concerns of the cohort of parents being engaged with. The aim is to empower parents to proactively manage their child’s health, development and wellbeing through the first year of life and beyond.

Progress made: What have you learned from doing this?

 Parents attending the CHFL workshops in different children’s centres in the North-West aerea of London,  reported they have increased their parenting skills, knowledge and confidence. Parents valued the interactive nature of the sessions and the opportunity to ask child health professionals questions. 

What’s your take home message?

 Co-design and delivery of workshops with the local community provides a significant opportunity for both the community and child health professionals to learn from each other, to further enhance the health and wellbeing of local children.

Community resuscitation training for children – Restart a Heart day

Community resuscitation training for children – Restart a Heart day

Caroline Scott-Lang – team leader; Naomi Hosking – co-developer; Bea Liddell; Practice Champions manager, Connecting Care for Children; Fran Cleugh, Paediatric A+E consultant



Knowing how to perform basic life support can be lifesaving. Our team already ran BLS classes for parents and carers, but doctors and nurses at Imperial wanted to support international Restart a Heart Day, to help young people learn an essential skill and build relationships with local schools.


Specific: We planned to deliver adult basic life support training sessions in two local schools, across different year groups, on Restart a Heart Day 2016 (Tuesday 18th October). Schools were selected by a Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine and the Connecting Care for Children (CC4C) team who had previously established interest in outreach teaching by the hospital team. Teachers liaised with clinical staff in advance to identify the numbers involved. Faculty was drawn from the Imperial Emergency Medicine, Paediatric Emergency Medicine, and Paediatrics departments. Staff were cross-covered from clinical duties where required. BLS mannequins were provided by the Trust resuscitation team. 90 minute teaching sessions were delivered at Westminster Academy and Queens Park schools. Emphasis was on children feeling comfortable with the technique of BLS whilst teaching them why we do what we do and using interactive discussion, video and role play to bring the session to life.

Measurable: Our aim was to teach BLS to as many children as practically possible on the day. Children’s understanding and technique was checked by experienced staff to ensure they had learned the skills safely. Although we did not collect formal feedback, verbal feedback and email contact from the schools afterwards was very positive. One child told us: “I feel like a hero, I can now save someone’s life.”

Attainable: Schools were consulted in advance to identify year groups who would engage well with the teaching and had time in their programmes to accommodate the session. The team took guidance on what would be helpful and we agreed our lesson plans with their teachers. Key teaching objectives were agreed by the teams visiting each site and adult BLS was taught according to St John’s Ambulance standards. The biggest resource required was clinical time, but the skill to be taught is a basic one and we were able to recruit faculty from a range of specialties and clinical roles (nursing, medical, outreach practitioners). This enabled us to have a faculty of 10 clinical staff without impacting on the running of the departments involved. Relevant: Knowing how to perform BLS is an essential life skill and empowering young people with the knowledge of how to respond in an emergency can be hugely beneficial. The Imperial teams were keen to develop relationships with local schools and raise our profile both locally and nationally, using social media to engage with a large-scale event.

Time bound: As the event was to take place on a specific date, all planning was done with this in mind and took place over a short period of time (around 2-3 weeks).


Progress made:

After the success of the first events, run in 2 schools, we now know we have a sustainable model and the potential for an annual event that can grow to include more children.


What have you learned from doing this?
– have built relationships with local schools – have developed a reproducible lesson plan that has been well received by students – closer working relationships with staff from other teams (Emergency Medicine, Outreach team) – effective use of social media to join in national campaigns – commitment to join national efforts on an annual basis
What’s your take home message?
This is a simple but essential skill that most clinicians would feel comfortable teaching to others. Children and their schools are very receptive to hospital teams reaching out to deliver this teaching. Pinning a project to a national event (e.g. Restart a Heart day) can provide a platform for better engagement.