Preparing for hospital

Whether the visit to the hospital is for a regular appointment, an overnight stay or a longer visit, coming to the hospital can be stressful for children, young people and their families.

For children and young people the change to their environment, routine and independence may be challenging.

Sometimes parents/carers can feel worried about discussing going to the hospital with their child and can often be worried about how to talk with their child, what to say and how to support their child to feel calm and comfortable about spending time at the hospital.

Advice for parents/carers about preparing to come to hospital

Be prepared

Supporting children or young people to know what to expect when coming to the hospital can help them to feel prepared. Some ideas to help with this include:

  • Looking up information about the hospital online.
  • Asking if it would be possible to visit before the appointment or hospital stay.

Be child-led

  • See what your child or young person understands about their visit to hospital. It might be that they are worried about something that you had not thought about and this will help you to support them with their concerns.
  • Check the child or young person’s understanding. Get them to repeat back what the doctor, paediatrician or nurse has said to check what they have understood. If there is information they do not understand, try to rephrase this. Sometimes it might be that repeating information several times might help as it can be hard to remember things.
  • Encourage your child to ask any questions that they have.

Bring reminders of home

Talk to the child or young person about what they can bring to the hospital with them. For example, they might like to bring a favourite toy or something to keep them occupied.

Be age appropriate

Help for children

Coming to hospital can be a new and exciting time, with new people to meet and new things to do. Sometimes people can also feel a bit worried.

To help you prepare how about:

  • Asking your parents to download the Hospichill app. The HospiChill app can help you get ready for your appointment but also help you feel in control when you are there by teaching you how to relax and stay calm.
  • You could draw a picture of what you think the hospital will be like and show your family.