Platypus – Surgical Care

About Platypus - Surgical Care

  • Platypus is the long Stay Surgical ward at RCH. It is a 30 Bed specialty surgical unit, caring for patients undergoing General Surgery, Orthopaedic, Plastics and Maxillofacial, Urology and Burns procedures. We are the dedicated burns and trauma unit at the RCH. The Platypus team is a multidisciplinary team. In addition to medical and nursing staff, patients on Platypus have access to occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, orthotics, the Child Pain Management Service and teachers. Caring for patients aged from newborn to teenagers, Platypus treats more than 3000 patients per year.

    People you may meet


    Bedside nurse

    A team of approximately 65 Registered Nurses have the responsibility of providing child focused and family centred care to children while they are an inpatient on the platypus ward.

    The three nursing shifts on the platypus ward are:

    0700 am - 0330 pm

    0130 pm - 1000 pm

    1000 pm - 0730 am

    Your child will be allocated a specific nurse for each shift. This nurse is responsible for planning, coordinating and providing your child’s care. Your child’s nurse will introduce themselves at the beginning of each shift and encourage you to participate in the planning and implementation of your child’s daily care. However, as the ward practices a team nursing approach when appropriate, you may encounter several nurses throughout each shift assisting in your child’s care. The ward is divided into pods, and each pod has two or three nurses. You can call on any of these nurses for assistance by pressing the call button on the remote control in your room. A nurse will come as soon as possible. Please speak to a nurse immediately if you are concerned about your child.

    Associate Unit Manager (AUM)

    The AUM is also referred to as the ‘nurse in charge’. The Platypus ward has several AUMs and many more nurse who act in this role. Each shift has a new AUM that will co-ordinate admissions, discharges and transfers. Although the AUM does not have their own allocated patients, unless it is a night shift, they are responsible for each patient on the ward. The AUM also offers support to the nurses caring for patients. If you have concerns or questions your allocated nurses has not been able to assist with, please feel free to request to speak the AUM.

    Nurse Unit Manager (NUM)

    It is the NUM’s role to manage the ward. This includes the day-to-day running of the ward, the human resource management of staff, managing the ward budget, managing OH&S and infection control practices and maintaining the quality of care the ward provides. The NUM also maintains relationships with clinical and non-clinical areas to ensure a positive working environment. It is also the NUM’s responsibility to address concerns or issues from patients and their families when the allocated nurse and AUM have been unable to do so.

    Nurse coordinators

    Each Platypus speciality has an assigned nurse coordinator to help coordinate the care of children child with complex needs and for those who experience a long admission. They are used as a single point of reference for the family, as well as members of the multi-disciplinary team caring for these children. They are also able to assist the allocated nurse with educating parents regarding their child’s condition and co-ordinate patient discharges.

    Clinical Support Nurse (CSN)

    Also known as educators, clinical support nurses are responsible for the clinical support of nursing staff. They assist nurses on the ward, while ensure nursing staff remain educated on current nursing practices. They also ensure nurses practice in an evidence-based way and liaise with the entire nursing and multi-disciplinary team to provide support and guidance at the bedside.

    Advanced Practice Nurses

    These nurses are specialists in a variety of areas including burns and pain management.


    A team of doctors will manage your child’s medical care and will be responsible for all treatments and investigations. Each patient will be under the care of a consultant who is a qualified paediatrician and/or a specialist in their field.

    Each consultant will have a registrar and a resident working alongside them. Both are qualified doctors who are completing further training. The registrar and resident will see your child most often and will complete physical assessments and order medications and tests.

    Fellows are doctors who have completed a number of years as a registrar and are soon to become a consultant.

    The doctors will visit once or twice a day during ward round, and they will review and assess your child’s condition and discuss plans for care or discharge. Ask your child’s nurse if you wish to speak to a doctor at any other time.

    Allied health

    One or more of the following allied health staff may visit to support your child’s treatment and recovery:


    Specialists in nutrition, dietitians give recommendations for supplements and modified diets. Dietitians also offer feeding advice for infants, children and young people


    Movement specialists who assess, diagnose and treat children to facilitate recovery and assist function. Physiotherapists helps to promote full participation in daily activities through physical therapy and health education.

    Occupational Therapist

    Occupational therapists are specialists in children’s daily occupation of play, self-care and productivity in their school and work tasks. They assist patients in their transition from hospital to home, community and school environment.

    Social Workers

    Professionally trained staff who support children and their families when illness impacts on family life. Social work services are free, confidential and available to all.  Social workers offer counselling and assistance when dealing with a child’s illness, and support families in crisis. They can assist when communicating with medical staff and act as advocates for patients and their families. Social workers facilitate connections to community resources and provide education on family issues and child health.

    Speech pathologists

    Specialists in speech, language and voice problems as well as swallowing or feeding difficulties.


    The people who look after all medication matters while your child is in hospital and make necessary medication arrangements for discharge. Our pharmacists visit the wards on weekdays, or you can talk to them in the pharmacy department.

    Educational play therapists

    Educational play therapists child development experts who ensure that life remains as normal as possible across the hospital environment for children and young people. The educational play therapy team promotes effective coping-in-hospital strategies through play, self-expression activities and developmentally appropriate medical preparation and procedural support

    Music Therapists

    Music therapists are proficient musicians who undertake a course accredited with the Australian Music Therapy Association. They provide clinical music therapy services to infants, children and adolescents with a range of medical conditions. At the RCH, patients are referred to music therapy to receive treatment support, mental health support, and/or neurodevelopment support.


    The education Institute provides educational support to patients to ensure their education continues in hospital. Teachers engage students in learning experiences with a rich arts focus and strong links to literacy and numeracy. They also support children and young people when it’s time to return to kindergarten or school.

    Other people who may meet

    Ward Clerk

    The ward clerk is stationed at the front of the ward and is often the first person you will meet. A ward clerk’s role is to provide direction and assist with any queries you may have. They have a great deal of knowledge about the hospital and life on the ward and are happy to assist patients and families. No question is too small or too silly. If you ask a question they don’t know the answer to, they will find someone who can help. They do a lot of the day-day administration of the ward, including keeping your child’s records up to date. Please let the ward clerk know if any of your personal information changes.

    Menu monitors

    A menu monitor will visit each morning with the menu for the next day and discuss and specific food requirements your child may have. Menu monitors also visit all new admissions who have been identified by ward staff as having complex food allergies. They will discuss good allergen management procedures, and will assist parents in selecting the most appropriate and safe diet for their child.

    The menu monitor will then compete the Allergy Menu Option form that documents your child’s allergy.


    The RCH’s team of dedicated volunteers support and assist nursing staff by spending time with patients whose or carers are absent, making the patients stay at the RCH as comfortable as possible. Volunteers are a wonderful resource for learning about activities happening around the hospital or services that may be useful to you. Please speak to your ward clerk if you would like a volunteer to visit and support you or your child during your stay.

    Infection Control

    Hospitals are full of sick patients, and there is a high risk of infection for other patients, parents and visitors. It is vital that everyone works hard to prevent the spread of germs. The best way to do this is by washing your hands regularly and using the hand sanitiser gel provided throughout the ward. Please ensure you gel your hands before entering and leaving a patient room and ensure you wash your hands before and after preparing or eating food and attending to personal and patient hygiene.

    Children who have an infectious illness will have special signs outside their room instructing visitors that they need to wear gowns and masks. Please adhere to these guidelines and ask your child’s nurse for help if you are uncertain of what to do

    If your child is infectious, it is important to limit the number of visitors who come to see them. Walking around the ward or to other areas of the hospital can expose other people to infection, so your child should try to stay in their room as much as possible.

    Pt Identification

    When we admit your child, they will have an identification (ID) band attached around their wrist or ankle. The information on the band includes the patient’s name, date of birth, their unique RCH record number (or UR number), and a barcode. A red ID band indicates your child needs an additional alert regarding allergies. Many different nursing, medical and allied health staff will care for your child throughout their stay and will routinely scan your child’s ID band to confirm the patient’s information.

    Your child will not be able to receive treatment while in hospital if they do not have an ID band

    It is essential to wear an ID band at all times, so please speak with nursing staff if your child does not have one.


    Visitors are very welcome and are wonderful for company and distraction. Please remind family and friends that patients require lots of rest to recuperate and ask they observe visiting hours.

    Visiting Hours on Platypus

    Click here for up-to-date visitor guidelines. Some restrictions on visitor numbers are in place due to COVID-19 – please check carefully before you visit. 

    Ward rounds, surgery and medical imaging

    Every day, doctors visit the wards to see their patients. Our doctors are friendly and approachable and will welcome your input and questions. It can be helpful to write down any questions you think of to ask when the doctor visits. You might like to use the room’s communication board to jot down your questions. If issues arise, your child’s nurse can contact the doctors at any time.

    Remember, you are a vital member of your child’s care team, so please participate as fully as you can during ward rounds and ongoing treatment.

    While in hospital, your child might need to have a surgical procedure. Surgery usually means having to fast (nothing at all to drink) and being taken to the operating theatre on level 3. You will meet your child’s surgeon, anaesthetist and the theatre staff, who will explain in detail what will happen. When your child wakes up after the operation they will stay in the recovery room close to the operating theatres for a length of time. Once they are awake and as comfortable as they can be, they will go back to their room on the Platypus ward.

    Throughout the admission, your child may also have appointments with Medical Imaging on the lower ground floor. They may need to have X-rays, scans or other investigations performed to ensure that their recovery after surgery is coming along as anticipated.

    Discharge planning

    But we just got here! Yes, we understand that it might seem a little strange that discharge planning starts as soon as your child arrives, but to make sure your child can go home as soon as possible we need to work together from the moment you arrive.

    Going home is a critical process that is managed carefully to ensure that your child is safe and that you can continue to manage any ongoing treatment carefully,

    Throughout your child’s stay, we will be working with you to achieve a safe discharge. If medications or treatments are continuing when you get home, participate with your child’s nurse in performing these procedures as often as you can during the stay so that you feel confident to manage when you go home. The ward pharmacist and nursing staff can provide education and written information on administering your child’s medications. If you have any concerns about your ability to manage any aspect of your child’s condition, please raised these early with your child’s nurse and care manager

    Before you leave, carefully check the room to ensure that none of your personal belongings are left behind. If required, a certificate of attendance can be issued at the time of discharge.

    Kitchen and Food

    Food for patients

    Ward pantry

    The ward pantry is near the main entrance of the ward. The Kitchen and refrigerator are strictly for patient’s food only. Food for parents, siblings or visitors must not be storied in this area. Inappropriate foods will be removed to ensure compliance with the hospitals Food Safety policy.

    The fridge in the ward pantry has bread, spreads, snacks and drinks. This food is provided for patients use only and is not for parents, siblings or visitors. If you require anything extra for your child, please ask your child’s nurse or ward clerk and they can send a request to the main kitchen. Children with food allergies should not be offered foods from the ward pantry, and all additional food requests for these children must be directed to the main kitchen.

    To maintain hygiene standards, please wash your hands at the basin or use hand sanitiser gel each time you enter the pantry or handle food.

    The ward freezer is available only for the storage of Icy Poles. If collecting ice from the ward freezer ice machine, please take extra care that you do not accidently unlock the temperature setting.

    Do not make tea and coffee in the ward panty due to the potential risk of burn of scald injuries to patients. Additionally, using the ward pantry in this way does not comply with the RCH’s Food Safety Policy. Please only use the facilities provided in the parent lounge for making tea and coffee.


    The hospital’s main kitchen will provide all of your child’s meals during their stay. Children with food allergies, therapeutic diets (eg diabetes, coeliac disease) and/or religious or cultural beliefs (kosher or halal meals) will receive meals and foods consistent with these dietary requirements. Please tell your nurse if your child has any special dietary requirements.

    Each day, fill out the menu and leave it above the door number at the entrance to your child’s room.

    Meals are distributed around the following times each day

    Breakfast: 7:30am

    Lunch: 11:30am

    Dinner: 5pm

    A food service assistant will deliver the meal tray to your child’s room. It is important that they correctly identify your child before leaving the meal tray to ensure that each child receives the correct meal. If a parent is not present or your child is too young, your child’s nurse will be asked to provide confirmation, or the meal will not be left.

    To comply with the hospitals Food Safety Policy, the food service assistant will return to collect the meal tray one hour after delivery. Non-perishable items can be retained, but all other foods must be collected at this time.  If your child is still hungry, you can find additional food items in the ward pantry. An afternoon tea trolley visits patients around 3pm.

    If your child needs to fast for a period before a medical procedure, your nurse will tell you. It’s really important to strictly follow these instructions so that testes or procedures are not delayed. Please do not offer food or drinks to other children on the ward in case they are fasting or have allergies.

    Bringing meals for patient’s in hospital

    The RCH strongly recommends children admitted to hospital do not consume meals brought from home or outside suppliers (takeaway) during their stay. Preparing, cooking, transporting and reheating food can cause harmful bacteria to grow, putting your child at risk of becoming very unwell.

    If you bring meals from home or outside suppliers, they must adhere to the following rules:

    • All meals must be refrigerated immediately after preparation and transported with an ice pack in an insulated food carry bag or Esky. Food transported at room temperature is more likely to allow bacteria to grown that will make your child unwell.
    • All meals must be eaten immediately after they arrive. A microwave is available in the ward pantry kitchen for reheating meals. The meals should be heated through evenly, consumed immediately and not reheated again.
    • Do not store pre-prepared meals in the ward pantry fridge for later use
    • If your child does not finish the meal, the leftovers must be thrown out. Partially eaten meals of leftovers cannot be stored in the fridge and will be discarded by hospital staff
    • Staff will not be involved in the preparation, handling and provision of meals brought in from home or external sources

    Bringing in items for patients that require refrigeration

    Perishable, single serve, sealed items (eg. yoghurts, drinks, custards) can be brought into the hospital if they meet the following criteria

    • They must be stored in the ward pantry fridge. No other hospital food is to be used.
    • All items must have a label with your child’s name and the date using labels made by nursing staff
    • Any opened item must be consumed or discarded and must not be returned to the ward pantry fridge. Staff will discard any  items found in the ward pantry fridge which do not meet these guidelines

    Bringing in snack foods for patients

    Non-perishable items (eg muesli bars, uncut fresh fruit, dried fruit or biscuits can be brought in from external sources.

    • These items can be stored at your child’s bedside
     Food for families

    Although the RCH does not supply food or beverages for parents, siblings or visitors, you will find tea and coffee making supplies and items for breakfast (including cereal, milk, bread and spreads) in the parent lounge near the ward. You are also welcome to supply your own food and drink when your child is in hospital.

    A communal refrigerator is available for general food storage in the parent lounge located near the entry to the ward. You can store your own homemade or purchased food in this fridge. Please take note of the following guidelines:

    • This food cannot be offered to your child who is the patient in hospital
    • All food must be in containers and labelled clearly with your family name, child’s room number and date you placed the item in the fridge. Labels and a pen are available.
    • Any unlabelled food or food left for more than three days will be thrown out.
    • Before discharge, or after three days, please remove the food you have stored in the fridge. The fridge is cleaned and the contents reviewed regularly.
    • Take care to collect and special containers you’ve bought from home so they aren’t accidently thrown out.
    • There is a separate parent freezer located in the ward pantry, where you can store frozen meals for families. Please ensure you label this food with your name and the date. Strictly no hospital foods, including ice cream, are to be stored in this freezer

    Parent lounge

    The parent lounge is located off the main corridor when you first enter the ward. You will find a fridge, chairs, a dining table, tea and coffee making facilities and a small kitchenette. Please feel free to make yourself at home and relax in these facilities, as it is important to take time out to look after yourself when your child is in hospital.

    Donated food may sometimes be available in the parent lounge. This food has been provided externally to the RCH and is not covered by our Food Safety Policy. This food should not be offered to patients, but only consumed by parents and siblings as intended.

    Thankyou for cleaning up after yourself when using the parent lounge or ward pantry. Although we have cleaning staff they are limited in number and have great demands on their time. Please do not wash your dishes in the sink. Rather, rinse and place all items in the dishwasher provided to ensure that they are cleaned and sanitised correctly.

    There are some cafes, a convenience store and a supermarket on the ground floor of the hospital if you need to purchase food. You are welcome to bring this back to your child’s ward, being mindful of the previous guidelines. Please be aware that consuming alcohol is not permitted in any part of the RCH including parent accommodation areas, parent lounges, the Family Hub or outdoor or garden space.\

    Nappies and continence aids

    Supplies of newborn, junior, crawler and toddler-sized nappies and Molicare continence pads are available, so please ask a nurse for what your child needs. Nappy disposal bags and bins are in the utility room. Your child’s nurse will let you know if nappies or continence pads need to be weighed for fluid observation before disposal.

    Breastfeeding and bottles


    The RCH actively supports and promotes breastfeeding. Your supply of breastmilk can be particularly vulnerable when your baby is sick, so our staff will work with you to maintain your supply and optimise breastfeeding while your child is in hospital

    Ward Formula Room

    The ward formula room is in the main entrance of the ward. Here you will find bottle warmers, expressing kits, breast pumps, feeding teats and empty green-capped bottles for storing expressed breast milk (EBM). There is also a fridge where you can store EBM and/or formula. Fortified EBM and formula are prepared and delivered to this fridge between 2pm-3pm each day from the central formula room. Look through the fridge’s glass door to find your child’s feed before opening and ensure the door is closed properly after use.

    Please return all feeding bottles and teats to the ward formula room after use. They will be collected each day and returned to the central formula room for cleaning and sanitising. Please do not take the bottles home. Water in the bottle warmer needs to be discarded after every use to avoid cross-contamination between feeds.

    Please visit our Parent Information page for helpful resources.