Being a teenager at GOSH

Teenage patient with play specialist on Activity Room sofa at GOSH

Some young people feel OK about coming to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) but others can find it hard to be a teenager in hospital. We understand this, and have a few suggestions for how to make your stay a bit easier. 

Other TeenGOSH patients have found some of these suggestions helpful – we hope that you do too.

Before you arrive

Do a bit of research about GOSH, so you know what to expect when you get here.

Ask questions

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or your nurse lots of questions about your condition, its treatment and what will happen in hospital. Ask him or her to write it down if you're worried you might forget! You can also read up about your condition online.

Get the number of someone at the hospital you can talk to about your treatment or your hospital stay. Your clinical nurse specialist is often a good place to start.

Browse the hospital website

Talk to Pals

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (Pals) is here to help you and your parents/carers with any concerns you have about your care.

Find things to do nearby

If you're able to leave the ward, there are loads of shops, places to eat, parks and things to do around GOSH

See if people can visit

You might know people who live nearby or other people might want to come and see you in hospital. Talk to the staff on your ward to see when it's OK to have visitors.

Connect with other teenagers

Ask the staff at GOSH if there are other young people you could be put in touch with, or former GOSH patients you could ask for advice about your stay. You could ask your clinical nurse specialist or the adolescent clinical nurse specialist at GOSH about this.

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While you're here

Try and have a bit of a routine

If you can, get up and go to the Hospital School. Find out what's on for teenagers at GOSH, like groups and activities with others your age.

Keep yourself busy

Watch our video on what to bring with you to the hospital so you're not bored between tests and treatments. Ask the play specialists on your ward for things to do too – they often have DVDs, video games and iPads you can borrow and offer arts and crafts or games in the evenings.

Stay in touch with family and friends

It will give you something to look forward to and stop you feeling like you're missing out. The hospital has free Wi-Fi access, so you can stay connected while you're here. Or, you can ask people to come and see you.

Ask for privacy if you want it

Tell the doctors and nurses if you want a bit of peace and quiet. You could come up with a simple system for your door to indicate when you do and don't want to see people. It may not always be possible but the staff will try their best to make sure you have some privacy if you want it.

Know your rights

All young people have the right to ask to be seen by their doctor or nurse on their own without a parent/carer. You also have the right not to have too many people in your ward or clinic consultations (eg visiting medics, students etc). You can ask for only essential staff to be there. If you find this hard, speak to your nurse who will help you with this.

Don't be afraid to ask

Whether you want some company or have questions, just ask the ward staff for help.

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Getting ready to leave

Whether you're going to have to remember when to take your medication or you're preparing for adult health services, being involved in your treatment can help you feel more independent.

Here are some ideas for how you could play a more active role in your treatment:

Speak to your parents/carers

Tell them if you want to take more responsibility for your treatment.

Ask questions

Let your doctors know that you'd like to be more involved in your treatment and ask them to explain anything that you don't understand. Don't be afraid to ask them to go through things again, it can be hard to understand a lot of medical information.

Don't be afraid to ask for help

Even if you're playing a more active role in your care, things can be hard and sometimes it's helpful for everyone to admit it's tough.

Be honest

Sometimes people can think that you're not taking responsibility for your treatment because you simply don't want to or can't be bothered. Let people know if you're finding it hard to do particular things and why. 

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