Coping with a hospital visit

Hospitals can be daunting places for children and adults. We hope the following ideas will help.

We realise that parents would like some guidance on how to prepare their child for hospital, so we have put together some suggestions for you. 

All of these ideas have come from our play specialists, who between them have years of experience of preparing children for tests, operations and procedures.

If you have any ideas of your own or particular activities that work with your child, please contact the Play service to tell us about them.

The key to preparing your child for hospital is to tailor your explanations and activities to your child’s age and level of understanding. You know your child best, so you will be able to gauge what he or she will be able to understand and when.

General points to remember include:

  • Talk to your child about coming to hospital using simple, easy to understand language.

  • Giving too much information, especially to young children, can also be frightening.

  • A visit to the ward or department beforehand can also help. To arrange a visit to the ward, please call the number on your admission letter and ask to speak to the play specialist. We appreciate that some families live too far away for this to be possible. We suggest that you and your child read through the information in our children’s section together and make a list of questions to ask. You can then ring the Play service to talk these questions through.

  • Encourage your child to ask questions as well as asking them yourself. With older children, making a list of questions before an appointment or admission can help address any fears or worries.

  • Most importantly, let your child know it is OK to feel scared or upset. These are perfectly normal feelings and nothing to worry or be embarrassed about. It’s alright to let you know if they’re worried or in pain.