Ice Breaking: Assisting Children During Hospital Stays

Having your own mug and some nice tea can be comforting.

Having your own mug and some nice tea can be comforting.

Whether you are a constant bedside parent or a visit after work parent you can do several things that improve the hospital stay experience for you and your child.  I don’t always have the energy to do these things but I know they work.

Supplies
Leave you and your partners favoured coffee mug along with your favourite teabags or coffee in a bag in your childs cupboard. You might also bring a plastic container with your preferred biscuit or fruit cake, nuts etc.  Take time to make yourself a  good cuppa and sit back and enjoy it. Remind yourself to relax.

Learn and Use Other Patient Names
All the kids have their names on the wall beside their bed.  As you enter and leave the ward say hello and goodbye to the other kids by name.  “Hi Michelle” ” “See you later Jo”.  I have found that this simple process helps the kids learn each others names and acts as a bit of an ice breaker on the ward.

Learn and Use Nurse Names
I use the staff names in front of my child.  If a nurse delivers a medication, I notice the name tag and say, “Thanks Kevin.”  It encourages your child to do the same.  Kids who are polite and appreciative are more likely to be chatted to by staff.  This also means your child is more likely to ask for assistance if they need it because they know who their nurse is.

Acknowledge Other Parents
It is easy to acknowledge other parents without being intrusive.  Most parents are very tense – don’t be put off – be friendly anyway.

  • If you are making a tea, offer to make them one too.  Some people find it hard to leave their chid.
  • When you have finished with a magazine or newspaper offer it to another parent.
  • If you are off to the shop ask around and see if anyone wants supplies.
  • Give a nod of acknowledgement as you come and go from the ward.

I have found the process of learning names and acknowledging other parents makes an important difference.  Somehow it makes it easier for other parents to comfort or assist your child when you aren’t there.  This might be a simple thing like opening the high security plastic in the little cereal boxes.  It might be something major like noticing your child is distressed and alerting staff.

Coffee mug photo courtesy of radiant guy at Flickr Creative Commons

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