Kids Health Info

Media and social media for families

  • Media

    Journalists are often interested in profiling RCH patients and their families in the media. Here is some information to help you during your child’s stay at the RCH.

    Media interest and support

    A child’s time in hospital can be stressful and difficult. During this time, families may be contacted directly by media. This is particularly the case when a child is admitted following an accident, has a rare condition or if media has read online about a child’s medical journey.

    Media at the RCH

    RCH Corporate Communications is responsible for managing all media relations at the hospital and is the first point of contact for any media enquiry or visit to the hospital.

    Speaking with media about your child

    Corporate Communications is available to advise and assist families in their dealings with media.

    Media may approach you directly to write or film a story about your child’s condition while they are an inpatient at the RCH.

    Families who wish to invite media into the hospital when their child is an in-patient must seek approval from Corporate Communications who will gain approval of the medical staff caring for the child.

    A Corporate Communications staff member will accompany media during their visit, including for interviews, filming and photography. This is primarily to ensure patients, families and visitors are not disturbed during their stay at the RCH and that full written consent is received before permitting media to film, photograph or interview our patients. It is also to consult staff about media presence onsite and to ensure staff are not interrupted while performing their jobs.

    Patient condition reports

    As the statewide major trauma centre for paediatrics, the RCH provides emergency treatment and ongoing care for the majority of Victoria’s most severely injured children.

    To reduce the burden on you and your family being contacted by media, and to minimise the risk of inaccurate reporting, Corporate Communications will provide media with patient condition reports upon request.

    The updates are very brief reports, ie. "The patient is in a satisfactory/stable/serious/critical condition".

    We respect and maintain the privacy of our patients. For this reason, we will not confirm further details about your child such as name, age, details of incident or injuries, family circumstances etc. unless we have obtained full informed consent from you.

    Pro-active media

    Corporate Communications may approach patients and their families to seek their involvement in a story, especially in the lead-up to Good Friday.

    We will explain the purpose of the story, the media involved and will accompany media at all times on their visit to the hospital. This may include facilitating media on the ward and in theatre. Families are under no obligation to participate.

    Organ donation stories

    The RCH is regularly asked to connect journalists with patients who may be waiting for an organ donation or have received one.

    Australia’s organ and tissue donation program is confidential, where neither the donor family nor the recipient and their families know one another and care should be taken when speaking with media.

    Corporate Communications is available to explain sensitivities to media and to assist families in sharing their stories.

    This will involve:

    • Discussing the best timeframe for speaking with media. Medical staff may make recommendations about the timing of media involvement and release of the story.
    • Speaking with the patient’s family about the type of media they are comfortable doing or speaking with extended family members if they are speaking on your behalf.
    • Seeking approval from the patient’s medical team.
    • Explaining the sensitivities of organ donation to media and connecting them with expert spokespeople at the RCH.

    Social media

    The primary focus of RCH staff is to deliver great care to your child and family.

    Taking photographs, images or videos of staff at work (including conducting assessments and medical procedures or interacting with patients) may interfere with their ability to care for your child.

    Photographs and videos of staff are not to be taken or used on personal social media or personal internet sites, including blogs and fundraising pages, without prior approval and consent from all staff involved.

    If staff ask you to refrain from photographing or filming, please do so. This is to ensure your child is getting their full attention and to protect the personal privacy of staff.

    Under no circumstances is photography or filming permitted in the RCH Emergency Department or in Theatres.

    Please also remember when posting images and information on social media about your child’s admission to the RCH that media can use this information and photographs to build a news story. Media are under no obligation to seek permission from you to use material that you have posted publicly.

    Families are also advised not to take medical advice from social media or post correspondence about their child’s treatment online. Treatment for each child is different and others may incorrectly use this information to treat their child. Always consult your child’s GP or clinician at RCH if you require medical advice.

    We understand that patients and/or families may wish to connect to a staff member via social media, however we ask that you refrain from doing so. Staff are not permitted to form social relationships with patients and families on social networking sites.

    Key points to remember

    • RCH Corporate Communications is available to advise and assist families in their dealings with media
    • RCH Corporate Communications must approve all media visits to the hospital and will accompany media during their visit.
    • Photographs, images or videos of staff at work are not to be taken or used on personal social media or personal internet sites without prior approval and appropriate consent from all staff.

    For more information

    Contact the Corporate Communications team

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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.