When your child requires hospital treatment, you may find it stressful juggling the demands of everyday life. You may have other children to care for, and the household chores keep piling up. Add to this the expense of daily visits to your child in hospital – travelling, parking, meals away from home, childcare, missed days at work – and some parents may find they are struggling.
Every hospital has a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which should be able to connect you with local sources of support.
Don’t be shy about asking – staff will be happy to help. You could ask about the following benefits which do vary with each hospital:
Free or reduced hospital parking
Hospital parking can be expensive. Some hospitals will let you park for free if you are visiting your child, or they may offer a lower rate for parking.
Free hospital meals for parents
When you are visiting your child in hospital, it’s important to keep your own strength up. Eating away from home is expensive and some hospitals will provide free meals to parents who are visiting their sick children.
Ronald Macdonald House
The Ronald McDonald House Charities help families stay near their sick children while they are in hospital. There are Ronald McDonald Houses and Family Rooms in 40 hospitals across the UK. The House or Family Room is either near the hospital or next to the ward. Families can get some crucial rest, a sense of normality and support from other families.
The charity tries to help any family they can. Families who have to travel the furthest to be with their sick child get priority. For more information phone Ronald McDonald House on 0844 840 0844 or visit www.rmhc.org.uk
For further help and advice you may find it useful to contact the following organisations:
Citizen’s Advice Bureau www.adviceguide.org.uk
Contact a Family website at www.cafamily.org.uk helpline on 0808 808 3555
Contact a Family Benefits Checklist for parents in England, Wales & Scotland
The Benefits Enquiry Helpline on 0800 88 22 00 or www.direct.gov.uk
The Disability Alliance at www.disabilityalliance.org
The Department for Work and Pensions at http://www.dwp.gov.uk/directgov/
Non means tested - Government benefits
Disability Living Allowance
This is the main benefit for people with a disability. It is paid regularly, straight into your bank account. Whether you qualify and how much you get depends on the level of extra care your child needs and whether they have mobility problems.
Read our guide Disability Living Allowance to find out who qualifies and advice on completing the form.