Dream Room at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha.

The Power of Dream Rooms in Transforming the Treatment Experience of Seriously Ill Children

By Natalie Lazaris, Head of Business at Reach For A Dream

Serious illness can be a lonely and isolating experience for children. The sterile and impersonal environment of a hospital ward can make them feel even more disconnected from the outside world. However, there is hope. In May, we unveiled four new Dream Rooms at the Steve Biko Paediatric Cardiology and Pulmonology Clinic in Pretoria, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha, Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein and King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban, respectively.
These rooms are equipped with everything from books and toys to electronic devices intended to provide children with a much-needed respite from the harsh reality of hospital life and just be children again. With its whimsical decor and soothing ambiance, each Dream Room has its own unique theme and design for children to immerse themselves in imagination and play.
For instance, the Dream Room at Steve Biko Paediatric Cardiology and Pulmonology Clinic in Pretoria, which was made possible through our partnership with Cell C, is themed “Connecting Dreams” and has been carefully designed to be a haven of healing for children fighting cardiac and pulmonary illnesses. The Dream Room at Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in partnership with Airlink, on the other hand, takes children on a journey through the clouds with an aeroplane that they can sit in, while the Dream Room at Universitas Hospital in partnership with Truworths Earthchild is themed “Dreaming with Nature,” which allows children to experience elements of nature – from camping under the stars to riding in a boat on the water. In Durban, children can enjoy “Dreaming at the Beach” in the RMHC Dream Room. 
Dream Room at Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein
 Dream Room at the Steve Biko Paediatric Cardiology and Pulmonology   Clinic
The Dream Rooms are not just about providing a physical escape; they also have a positive impact on children’s mental and emotional health. Play is an essential part of childhood development, and it allows children to express themselves and their emotions in a safe and healthy way. In the Dream Room, children can play freely without worrying about their illness getting in the way. This helps to reduce anxiety and stress and gives them a sense of control and power in a situation that can often feel daunting.
A resident Psychology graduate in each Dream Room also runs a variety of fun and educational activities, ensuring that their developmental milestones are met.
Dream Rooms also have a positive impact on children’s families. When a child is in hospital, it’s not just the child who is affected, but the entire family. The Dream Room provides a place where families can spend time together and have fun in a way that they might not be able to on the hospital ward. It creates a space where families can make happy memories together, which can be a source of comfort during this challenging time.
Each Dream Room was made possible through a generous donation from our partners, which contributed funds to help design, construct, and equip the space with the latest sensory technology. We’d like to thank our sponsors Cell C, Airlink, Truworths Earthchild, and RMHC for their support.
To date, The Foundation has successfully opened 37 Dream Rooms in various hospitals across the country, with plans to build an additional 10 rooms by 2024.