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  • Factsheets

    Advice for parents and guardians

    Visiting requirements during COVID-19

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) has introduced visitor restrictions to protect our patients, their families and staff.

    Hospital site attendance

    Only the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) are permitted to attend the hospital. No other visitors are allowed on site, this includes siblings and other children.

    Main reception (ground floor)

    All visitors attending will be asked to confirm who they are and will be asked some screening questions and have a temperature taken. Please note that you may be required to be re-screened at the entry point every time.

    Bedside restrictions

    One parent/legal guardian will be allowed at the bedside unless other agreements are made with the treating team.

    Overnight and visiting times

    Regular restrictions for overnight and visiting times still apply.

    Queries

    We know these restrictions may be challenging and we understand each family’s situation is different. Please speak to your child’s treating team and/or nurse in-charge if you have any concerns.

    Hand hygiene and social distancing

    While you are at the RCH, we remind you to please follow our strict infection control procedures:

    • Use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the room
    • Cover your cough and sneeze
    • Stay 1.5m apart from all others

    We thank you for your cooperation and support as we all work together to protect our patients and staff throughout this pandemic.

    To keep up-to-date with the right information about COVID-19, we encourage the community to regularly visit the Victorian DHHS website www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

    COVID-19 information

    Visitors

    As part of The Royal Children’s Hospital's (RCH) response to managing the COVID-19 outbreak, we have introduced additional visitor restrictions.

    Visitors are now restricted to parents or guardians only. No siblings or other children may attend. To protect our patients and staff and adhere to social distancing requirements, only one parent or guardian will be allowed in the patient’s room while hospital staff are present.

    Patients attending an outpatient appointment will be able to have one parent or guardian attend.

    We know these restrictions can be challenging and we understand each family’s situation is different. For exceptional circumstances we encourage families to speak to their child’s treating team for further advice.

    If you are worried your child might have COVID-19 and are arriving to attend the Respiratory Infection Clinic please enter via the ED entrance. We remind the community to always attend their local ED for non COVID-19 related concerns.

    To keep up-to-date with the right information on COVID-19 please visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus and if you are worried your child may have COVID-19 please call the hotline on 1800 675 398 for further advice.

    Visitor assessment checkpoint

    All visitors will be screened prior to entry at the RCH. Visitors will be asked a series of health questions, and receive a temperature check.

    Parents or guardians can enter through the Yellow Lifts or main entrance doors on Flemington Road to access the visitor assessment checkpoint.

    Telehealth Specialist Clinic appointments

    To help keep our patients and staff safe, and ultimately help reduce the spread of COVID-19 through social distancing, the RCH is currently limiting the number of people visiting the hospital each day.

    This includes providing the opportunity for patients and families to access Specialist Clinic appointments from their own home through telehealth, or video call. Telehealth is an important way we are providing continuity of care for our patients while significantly reducing the number of people attending the hospital each day.

    The RCH clinicians are actively reviewing their upcoming clinic lists and assessing if their patients need to be seen face-to-face, or if they are suitable for a telehealth appointment or phone review.

    The Specialist Clinics team will contact patients and families before their next appointment to advise if it is being moved to telehealth or phone review.

    What is telehealth?

    Telehealth is a way for families to access their appointments without having to attend the RCH in person. Similar to videoconferencing, patients are able to interact with their healthcare provider in the safety of their homes, just by using their laptop, smartphone or tablet device.

    How to access telehealth at the RCH?

    You will need:

    • an internet connection
    • a device such as a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone
    • a private, well-lit area where you will not be disturbed during the video call
    •  a web-browser such as Safari or Google Chrome
    •  web-camera, speakers and microphone (may be built into laptops or mobile devices)

    How to access the telehealth platform for families and patients?

    Once you are ready to start your telehealth video call, follow these steps:

    1. Go to www.rch.org.au/telehealth
    2. Click the 'Start Your Video Call' button
    3. Follow the instructions on the screen to process to the telehealth waiting area. Your clinician will appear on your screen when they answer your video call

     There is also a 'Test Video Call' button on the RCH Telehealth website so families can check that their equipment is working.

    Who can I contact for telehealth support?

    For help accessing telehealth, please contact:

    Chin-Mae Raymundo
    Telehealth Coordinator
    Phone: 9345 4645
    Email: rch.telehealth@rch.org.au
    Monday to Friday (business hours)

    Frequently asked questions

    What is the new coronavirus, COVID-19?

    Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. COVID-19 is a new virus that can cause an infection in people, including a severe respiratory illness. The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.

    What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

    Many people who contract COVID-19 will suffer only mild symptoms. However early indications are that the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms.

    The most common coronavirus symptoms reported include:

    • fever
    • breathing difficulties such as breathlessness
    • cough
    • sore throat
    • fatigue or tiredness

    I’m worried my child may have symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?

    If you’re concerned your child might be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus or call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice.

    Children experiencing respiratory symptoms can visit their family doctor, or consider visiting their closest hospital Emergency Department for emergency care. If you require advice after hours, you can also contact the after hours GP helpline on 1800 022 222 or dial 000 in an emergency.

    Where should I go to get more information and advice?

    To keep up-to-date with the right information about COVID-19, we encourage the community to regularly visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.

    If you need an interpreter, please call TIS National on 131 450.

    Is there information about COVID-19 available in languages other than English?

    Yes, there are a range of translated fact sheets available for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds available on the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services website.

    Supporting your child to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic

    If you are concerned your child has COVID-19 please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 or visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus for more information.

    Many parents are looking for advice about how to best support their children to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. With the situation rapidly changing, frequent news of people becoming unwell, and many children unable to continue with their normal activities, it is a very unsettling time for families. This fact sheet contains some information for parents and carers to help them support their children and answer their questions during this challenging and uncertain time.

    Talk about coronavirus with your children

    It’s important not to avoid talking about coronavirus with your children - avoiding the topic may make them feel more worried and unsure about what’s going on. Many children will already have thoughts and ideas about coronavirus, so start by asking them what they know. Use open-ended questions and address any worries, fear or false information they may have heard. It’s okay to tell kids that we don’t have all the answers but when we know more we will share it with them.

    Be open and honest, but age-appropriate

    Stick to the facts, but think about your child’s age when sharing information with them. Children of different ages will need different answers. Keep it simple and clear for young kids and provide more detailed information for older children and teenagers.

    It’s important to remind children that although they might catch the virus, it is unlikely to make them very unwell. Tell them that if they do get sick it will be similar to a cold that they may have experienced before. They may get a fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat and be sick for a few days or around a week, and they will get better. It’s okay to tell children that adults are more likely to get sick, especially if they are elderly or have a medical condition. Let them know that most of the strategies they see in the community, like hand washing and social distancing, are actually to help protect the most vulnerable. By doing these things they are helping to protect others.

    Stay positive and hopeful

    It is helpful to stay positive and hopeful when discussing coronavirus with your children. Often the media focuses on worrying and negative aspects, so your children may become overwhelmed and think the situation is hopeless. Explain that there are lots of doctors and scientists working really hard to find out about this virus, and that they are learning new things every day. Let them know that many people around the world have recovered from coronavirus. It’s important for them to know that although things are different at the moment, and may be hard for a while, things will eventually return to normal.

    Limit information children get through the media

    There is lots of information in the media about coronavirus and it is likely that your children are seeing and hearing this through the TV, radio and online. Try to limit how much your child watches, hears and reads in the news, including on social media. Seeing graphic images or reading about the increasing number of cases of coronavirus can become overwhelming and upsetting. It’s especially important to try to limit your child’s exposure to frightening material in the news or online.

    Focus on the things children can control

    We need to help children focus on what they can do to stay safe and healthy. By giving children practical things that they can do will help them to feel empowered rather than helpless. Remind children about hand hygiene – make sure they know how to wash their hands properly and remind them to do this before and after they eat, as well as after touching their face or blowing their nose. See our video on keeping well. Teach them how to cough or sneeze into their elbow. Remind them to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth. Where possible, crowds should be avoided and people should refrain from close physical contact with people outside of their household. Show kids how to greet each other hands-free such as by touching elbows or feet. 

    Keeping well through physical activity, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep are also really important ways to support your children. Lots of children are disappointed that their regular sport and other activities may be cancelled. Find other ways to keep your kids active, such as spending time in the backyard or going for a family walk, run or bike ride.

    Stick to routines where possible

    Children need routine more than ever during uncertain and unpredictable times. Maintain as much normality in the house and daily life as you can and include family time. You can structure your child’s routine around meal time and bedtimes, as well as online learning activities for older children. Try to factor some physical activity into the day, as this is important for children of all ages, and good for adults too.

    Show your children that you are calm

    Children look to their parents and carers as a guide about how to react to situations. Even very young children are sensitive to stress and anxiety in adults. Parents and carers need to manage their own emotions and anxiety to help keep kids calm. Try not to talk to children about coronavirus when you are feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed. You can ask your partner or another trusted adult to speak with them.

    Look out for signs of anxiety or stress in your children

    Everyone reacts differently in stressful situations. Some children are naturally more anxious than others, and coronavirus may affect them a lot. Keep an eye out for highly anxious or unusual behaviour in your children. Younger children may show signs such as a change in behaviour, being more emotional, having temper tantrums or trouble sleeping or eating. Older children can show these signs too or they may also appear distracted, have trouble concentrating or become forgetful. Some children may develop repetitive or obsessive behaviours, such as excessive fear of germs or contamination.

    Make sure you keep having conversations with your children about other things besides COVID-19. Take the time to sit with your child and listen to what they are worried about. If you are concerned that your child is showing signs of high levels of anxiety or stress, seek advice from your GP.

    Look after yourself too

    Uncertain and stressful times can put a lot of strain on family relationships. In order to best support children, it is important that parents look after themselves too during this very stressful and difficult time. Try to find time for adequate rest and self-care. If you are feeling particularly stressed, overwhelmed or unsafe, or that you are not able to support your children in the way that you would like, please reach out to family and friends or your GP.

    Key points to remember

    • Children look to adults as a guide about how to react in stressful situations
    • Stay calm, positive and hopeful when talking with your child about coronavirus
    • Keep information clear, honest and age-appropriate
    • Limit media exposure about coronavirus
    • Give children practical things to do, like good hand hygiene, to help them feel in control
    • Make sure you and your child stay physically active
    • If you or your child are feeling overwhelmed or stressed seek help from friends, family or your GP
    • Try to make time to answer your child’s questions and keep the communication channels open

    Common questions our doctors are asked

    My child is worried that their grandparent might get very sick or die from coronavirus. What should I tell them? 

    It is important to be honest but hopeful and positive. Tell your child that by practising things like social isolation and hand hygiene can help to protect older relatives from catching the virus. Also tell them that we have excellent hospitals here in Australia, with lots of doctors and nurses ready to look after people if they become sick.

    My child still wants to see their friends and has asked if we can have a play date. What should I do?

    Explain to your child that one way we can all help to stop the coronavirus from spreading by spending less time mixing with other people. Instead of a play date, think about other ways they can socially connect with their friends, such as through facetime, a phone call or writing a letter. Explain that things won’t be this way forever, and things will return to normal eventually.

    My child has heard about people dying in the news and is worried it is going to happen to them. What should I say?

    Reassure your child that coronavirus does not make children very sick and they will not die from coronavirus. If they do catch it, they are likely to have cold, with similar symptoms to those they have experienced before, such as a sore throat, runny nose, cough and fever, and they would likely get better in a week or so.


    Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital General Medicine, Psychology, Social Work and Mental Health departments. We acknowledge the input of the RCH consumers and carers.

    Reviewed March 2020

    Kids Health Info is supported by The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. To donate, visit www.rchfoundation.org.au

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    Disclaimer
    This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.

    DHHS

    Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Videos

    Keeping healthy and staying safe

    There is a lot of information around at the moment about COVID-19 and you might be feeling overwhelmed and unsure about what you should do. One of the best things we can all do every day to stop the spread of viruses like COVID-19 is practice excellent hand hygiene, and cough and sneeze etiquette. Watch our video with RCH Infectious Diseases Physician Dr Andrew Daley for some more tips for keeping well.

    Talking to your child about COVID-19

    Talking to your child about COVID-19 can be challenging, and we know some parents might be unsure about how to answer their questions.

    Dr Margie is back to provide you with some tools on how to have the conversation and how you can support your child through this pandemic.

    To keep up-to-date with the right information on COVID-19 please visit www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus and if you are worried your child may have COVID-19 please call the hotline on 1800 675 398.