For parents and carers

Family centred care is at the heart of everything we do to improve your child’s health. Visiting hospital can be unsettling at any age. For a child, the idea of going to hospital may seem a little scary. Here are some things you can do to help you both feel prepared:

  • Choose a quiet time to talk to your child about their hospital visit, using a calm and relaxed tone of voice.
  • Tell your child that they will be going to hospital for an operation, test or procedure, and let them know that you feel this is the right thing to do. If you feel at ease, your child is usually able to sense this and react in the same way.
  • Use honest and simple explanations that fit your child’s age and level of understanding.
  • Ask your child questions to make sure they understand what you have said. Below are some age guidelines you might want to use:
    • Under the age of four—consider telling them one or two days before going to hospital. At this age, a child will likely react to your feelings, so it is more important to take the time to focus on preparing yourself.
    • Five to seven years—children at this age have a better understanding of time, so you might want to tell them three to five days prior. Encourage role play activities with your children like ‘playing doctors’ so that they become familiar with what they might experience in hospital.
    • Older than seven years of age—a child is able to understand the reason for a hospital stay so you may want to tell them a week before going to the hospital so they have plenty of time to ask questions.
  • You know your child best. Be sure to tell your child’s doctors, nurses and other caregivers about your child’s personality and past experiences with healthcare. For example, if your child is especially afraid of blood tests, staff can often find ways to make the experience less upsetting.
  • Involve your child in organising and packing. Encourage your child to bring something familiar to hospital, a favourite toy or item of clothing can be of great help.
  • Encourage them to bring their favourite toy or blanket and pajamas to keep them comfortable.
  • Try not to make promises you can’t keep. For example, don’t tell your child that nothing will hurt or that there won’t be any blood tests if you are unsure.
  • Tell your child how they might feel. For example, you may want to explain they will not hear, see or feel anything during their operation. You could try saying something like ‘the doctor will give you a special sleep medicine called anaesthesia before the operation.’
  • Let your child know that it is okay to feel many different ways about going to hospital. For example, excited, curious, worried or frustrated.
  • Please ensure your child is accompanied by a responsible adult support person whilst in hospital and for discharge. This may be yourself, your partner, or another family member or guardian. This is to ensure your child is kept comfortable and informed of all procedures that may happen during their time in hospital.

For children

At Mater Children’s Private Brisbane, there is always someone here to look after you. If you need anything we will do our best to make sure you have it. Here are some top tips to make your time with us as enjoyable as possible:

Ask questions

If you have questions for the doctors, jot them down or ask someone to write it for you. That way, if you forget or you’re feeling shy, you can just show them your notes. If you’re worried about something, like a needle or medicine, write it down too. Our doctors and nurses can help conquer your fear.

Pack your bag

Don’t forget a change of clothes and your pyjamas if you’re staying overnight. You might also want to bring something from home, like your favourite toy, book or game.

Have fun

Smiling and laughing will help you to feel better. You will get to see lots of friendly faces while you are at Mater Children’s Private Brisbane and we have some fun things for you to do, like games, movies and an outdoor play area.