As a mom, I can attest to this universal parenting truth: When our kids hurt, we hurt. Our hearts sink and our stomachs drop. Whether it’s the sniffles, a broken bone or something much worse, as parents we want to move heaven and earth to make things better for our kids.
The stress of having a sick child is, of course, magnified when a child is hospitalized. And while children’s hospitals provide top-notch care to our kids, they also do so much to support parents during this stressful experience. Even so, parents might not fully understand how to ask for help or know about the resources at their disposal to handle this challenging situation.
In the flurry of standardized hospital paperwork about essentials like parking, dining and visiting hours, information about things such as caregiver and coping tools—especially those tailored specifically to parents of young children—can get lost. This realization helped guide our content approach for our new pediatric hospital Patient Guide, which includes these three key messages children’s hospitals need to be telling parents:
Help Your Child Cope
Giving parents concrete ways to comfort their child, such as holding or touching their child, bringing favorite items from home and encouraging a child’s strengths, can go a long way to help them be there for their child. Coping content also stresses to parents the importance of being transparent and honest with their child about his or her questions and what comes next.
Take Care of Yourself
This content introduces empathy to parents and acknowledges that having a child in the hospital is a scary, stressful situation. It provides clear steps parents can take to keep themselves healthy so they can do what they do best: be there for their child. Caregiver content also introduces the important concept of the hospital’s team of child life specialists, and how these staff members can help parents and children with the emotional parts of a hospital stay.
Be an Advocate
Parents need to hear that it’s ok to speak up for their child’s care and needs during his or her stay. By reminding parents that they are the voice of their child and that it’s ok—and expected—to have questions and concerns, hospitals can help parents feel empowered to play a more active role in their child’s care.
Above all, parents need simple, easy and trustworthy tools from their child’s hospital that they can leverage to help ensure the best possible outcome for their child. And that’s the mission behind our Patient Guide: provide a comprehensive, expert-sourced and pediatrician-reviewed guide that’s easy to understand and in a clean, approachable format. As a mom, I feel good about providing this tool to children’s hospitals to help parents feel more empowered.
Email me to learn more about our pediatric hospital Patient Guide and to get your free sample.
As Senior Vice President of Hospital Strategy, Barb directs a team of trusted consultants who are committed to helping hospitals and health systems create seamless, satisfactory patient experiences across care settings.