For many parents, learning that their child requires hospital treatment can be an extremely stressful time. “How will my child cope with an operation?” What happens with the anaesthetic?” “Will I be able to be stay with them?” are all questions that might be going through your mind.
In addition, you may have other children to care for, you might have to juggle the demands of job and the household – chores keep piling up. Add to this the expense of regular hospital visits – travelling, parking, meals away from home, childcare, missed days at work – and some parents may find they are struggling.
CBeebies’ Dr Ranj offers useful and simple hints and tips about preparing your child for a hospital visit for procedures or tests.
Every hospital has a Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), which provides advice and information about the NHS and about health-related matters.
Many hospitals have a Family Support Service: likewise, many have a League of Friends, whose purpose is to improve the care and comfort of patients, visitors and staff – so do check with your hospital. And don’t be shy about asking hospital staff any other questions you may have – they’ll be happy to help. You could ask about the following schemes, which do vary with each hospital:
Free or reduced hospital parking
Hospital parking can be expensive. Some hospitals will let you park for free, or at a reduced rate, if you are visiting your child.
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.
Accommodation and Ronald Macdonald House
The Ronald McDonald House Charities help families stay near their sick children while they are in hospital. There are 14 Ronald McDonald Houses across the UK, all located close to specialist children’s hospitals. Families can get some crucial rest, a sense of normality and support from other families, all in a “home from home” environment.
The charity tries to help any family they can, although 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 Ronald McDonald House Charities.