Preparing for Hospital
Better prepared = less stressed
A hospital visit, whether a clinic appointment or a longer stay, is always stressful.
Here are a few useful tips to help you prepare for hospital with your child. Parents and children who prepare for hospital are likely to have their anxiety allayed. The Children in Hospital Ireland Parent Advice Booklet is available to buy and contains help and advice.
Prepare your child
If your child knows what is happening it will make it easier for everyone. As your child is growing up you can gently introduce the idea of hospitals into play. If children are familiar with hospitals through play it will help if they ever have to visit one.
When a hospital visit is necessary, there are simple 'tried and tested' ways in which you can help your child cope -
- Talk about hospital as a cheerful place where doctors and nurses help to make people better.
- Play doctors and nurses.
- Read hospital stories.
- Reassure your child that you will be there as much as possible, and that he or she will be coming home.
There are some further steps you can take which will help you to support your child -
- Ask your doctor about the treatment to be given so that you can explain simply what will happen.
- Explain about x-rays, injections, blood tests or any other treatment they may have. Keep explanations simple but ... tell the truth!
Parents also need to prepare for going to the hospital with a child. Again these simple tips may help to make the experience easier -
- Find out as much as you can about the hospital. Check for its advice leaflet.
- Use of canteen
- Any costs involved with staying overnight
- Organise relatives and friends to look after the rest of the family.
- Wear light clothes - (hospitals can be very warm)
- Bring something to pass the time.
- Be considerate of others, don't make noise at night.
- Don't give any child food or drink, without permission.
In the hospital and on the wards, the following ideas can help make things run smoothly -
- Bring a favourite toy or blanket (no matter how scruffy) and soother or bottle (if used).
- Tell the nurse and doctors special names your child may have for food, the potty etc.
- Help with everyday care of your child.
- Explain what is going to happen during examinations and injections (find out beforehand).
- Your child will need you especially before and after an operation.
- Reassurance and lots of love is often the most important medicine.
- Encourage your child to get involved with the other children, and in the hospital playgroup.
- Also, remember to talk about and give and news from home to your child.
Remember to look after yourself! It is important that you take regular breaks and that you rest.
- Always tell your child you are taking a little break, going for a walk, a cup of coffee or whatever.
- Say when you will be back, and
- Return when you say you will.
- If you cannot stay all the time, organise friends and relatives to visit.
At last you are going home! There are still some things that you will have to check out.
- Before leaving the hospital, make sure you know all about your child's after-care.
- Write down instructions about food, medicine etc.
- Check the date and time of the follow up visit.
- Don't worry if your child is difficult and demanding at home; this is normal and will soon pass.
- Talk and play about the hospital experience - talking, playing games and drawing and painting pictures can help you child come to terms with having been in hospital.
You can download CHI's helpful leaflet Prepare Your Child for Hospital
Also Download CHI's Aims and Info leaflet
If you would like more detailed information, please refer to the Parents Advice Booklet available from the CHI shop.