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A visit to hospital can be frightening for a person of any age, but especially for children. Here are some ideas and information to help your child before, during and after a hospital visit.
Tell your child honestly and truthfully why they need to come to hospital. If your child is under six years of age, tell your child a couple of days beforehand. If they are more than six years old, tell them a week or two beforehand. Telling your child before coming into hospital gives them time to prepare by asking questions and talking with you and others. Use simple words your child will understand.
If you are not sure what to say, or how to answer questions, you can call the hospital and ask to speak to an educational play therapist for advice on (03) 9345 9300.
Be careful about using humour or making jokes about going to hospital with your child. Joking around with adults can lighten up a potentially stressful situation. In children however, humour has not yet developed in the same way and jokes in this situation can become confusing or frightening.
The Educational Play Therapy Department runs a pre-admission program. You can make an appointment to come and meet an educational play therapist with your child.Through play, the educational play therapist will help your child understand what they can expect when they come into hospital. They can also explain certain things to you.
Educational play therapists will show you the areas of the hospital that your child will visit during their stay. This will help to make the surroundings feel more familiar. They will show your child any dressings, plasters, splints, IV drips and other equipment that may be present before or after surgery or a procedure, and explain their purpose through play. Your child will also be prepared for having an anaesthetic (going to sleep), once again through play and demonstration. See the following link for more information about anaesthetics www.rch.org.au/anaes.Practical tips and ideas
Developed by RCH Educational Play Therapy. First published July, 2008. Reviewed and updated October 2010