Child in the Hospital?

If you find yourself having to navigate a hospital admission for your child, there are two very helpful and yet little known resources available to support you and your child.

A Child Life Specialist

A Child Life Specialist is a healthcare professional whose role is focused on the psychosocial needs of the patient, including mental, emotional, and social needs.

This support can include:

  • Develop age-appropriate strategies to minimize trauma and increase understanding of a medical diagnosis through treatments plans using therapeutic play, education, preparation, and activities that promote growth and development
  • Supporting children and their families by using a variety of tactics to help them better understand a process, procedure, or other element of their medical experience
  • Advocating for the special needs of children and their families
  • Providing information, support, and guidance to parents and family members
  • Collaborating with the health care team to coordinate and manage care

Your child’s nurse or a Social Worker can ask the Child Life Specialist to reach out to you.

TIP: Since they tend to be in high demand and there may be just one of them at the hospital, put in a request as early as possible. Once you do, provide your phone and email so that it’s even easier for them to reach you.

A Social Worker

The hospital Social Worker can provide help to cope with the effects of your child’s illness on your family. They can support with both immediate and longer term practical and psychological challenges, such as:

  • Resources to care for other children while your child is in the hospital
  • Reimbursement for parking or public transport to/from the hospital
  • Meals while in the hospital caring for your child
  • Options for where to stay if you need to be close to the hospital
  • Ways to pay for care
  • An assessment of your family’s needs in relation to your child’s health event
  • Referrals to community resources
  • Short-term counseling to help your family adjust
  • Help in understanding and learning strategies to effectively deal with behavior

Your child’s nurse can put a request in for a Social Worker to reach out to you.

TIP: Get the Social Worker’s specific contact information so that you can proactively reach out to them. Once you do, provide your phone and email so that it’s even easier for them to reach you.

This short, but very informative “Eight Ways You Can Help Your Child Cope While at the Hospital” by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network may be helpful as well.