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Being A Hospital Parent: Part 2 – Visiting

Hospital doors I’ve had the GREAT chance to be in medical situations with my kids.
Children’s hospitals, ICU’s, therapy hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, you name it, we’ve probably done it.
If you’re lucky, these post will be the biggest waste of space.
I will NEVER tell anyone that we have all the answers to how to make thing easy for you and your kids, but I want to share what we learned and you can try.
*BE PREPARED*

  • truthful explanation - you don’t have to go into a lot of detail but getting your kids ready for what they’re going to see is important.  This is REALLY vital if it’s someone they see a lot and it’s a bit of a shocker for them.
  • other patients - THE PATIENT won’t be the only person your child sees. You may just want to give explanation of the hospital, it’s purpose and that it’s there to help.
  • what they can/cannot do – snacking on the meal tray, laying on the empty bed to watch TV, going through things…these are things that every kids might just do or seem curious about but leave you gasping in horror.  Talk to them about what the rules will be.
  • get involved – telling kids to be quiet and just sit there is like telling them to grow wings and fly to Nebraska.  The patient may not feel up to entertaining so I have some some suggestions: 1) Kids tend to clam up when put on the spot so if you have a smartphone or Flip camera (or equally quick solution) have them make a video before your visit that they can use to tell stories, jokes, show things, etc. 2) Put pictures in a little album to use as a “prompt” that will help your kids remember things they want to talk about

The hospital has a few ways they can make things go more smoothly (they are there to help, don’t forget).

**ASK FOR HELP**

  • Child Life Therapy - most hospitals with a children’s department have Child Life Therapists on staff.  These people are like PT and OT, trained professionals, but to help kids understand and cope with what’s going on. They have tools, techniques and tricks you may not have even thought of.
  • introductions - CNA’s, nurses and DR’s will take a few minutes to say hello and meet your kids.  There is a board in EVERY room that identifies the staff on duty for that shift.  These people might take blood, give meds, have you leave so they can do something else and it will be less frightening if the kids KNOW who is handling them.
  • call in advance – if you let them know in advance that you’re coming they can do “personal” needs for the patient, like bathroom, dressing, brushing teeth/hair etc.

Of course, there’s more and what worked for my kids might not work for yours but I think it’s pretty universal that we want to make an experience like this as UNtraumatic as possible.

Any tips and suggestion are welcome!!

photo credit: link

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