“When your child is admitted to the hospital, get comfortable" advises Jenine Repice whose family faced a serious pediatric medical crisis.
When a young child is admitted for an inpatient hospital stay, it is important to note that parents who intend to stay in the room with the child are typically given very little.
This is understandable – the hospital staff are charged with patient care. In delivering these primary services, other family needs are necessarily secondary.
This reality does, however, offer a terrific opportunity for family and friends to rally around the parents by providing necessary comfort items in the form of a community care package.
Community efforts to collect and deliver necessary items is actually a terrific substitution for a meal train. Gather some suggested items and create a “hamper" of offerings.
Meals, the “go-to" for many neighbors wanting to help in a crisis, are not especially helpful when a family is not at home. (Although, if you visit the hospital and you know that a particular meal is a favorite, by all means offer to bring it along and work with the hospital staff to locate the family room where it can be stored. Do bear in mind that there may not be a microwave available for heating, and it is worth asking about safe storage prior to bringing food.)
Repice advises those wishing to help parents facing pediatric in-patient hospital stays to provide lots of comfort items.
These include comforters and pillows, toiletries, and gift cards to local chain restaurants (ideally some with healthy offerings).
In addition, comfortable clothes are a necessity. Lots of yoga pants, sweat pants and other comfortable and easy to wash items enable parents to cuddle comfortably with a sick child in their hospital bed. A child may be sick to their stomach. They may lose control of other bodily functions. Do go ahead and include packets of detergent for laundering clothes in the bathroom sink, or a hospital laundry.
Include notebooks so that questions can be written down and information from doctors can be fully recorded.
Antibacterial soap is drying. Moisturizer and lip balm are therefore extremely helpful.
So too are blankets and throws that can be used for warmth since patients cannot control the climate of room. These are preferable to sweaters which may or may not fit all family visitors. Fuzzy slippers with treads keep feet warm and clean.
“What saved me in the hospital were my touch points. The things that felt familiar. This is my tea. This is my mug. These things from home kept me grounded during our stay."
To that point, consider bringing an electric kettle and the favorite tea of a parent. While, it is true that tea can be purchased in a hospital cafeteria this is unlikely to be especially good tea. And while hospital staff would very likely agree to provide hot water (or at least luke warm water) for tea, parents hesitate to ask for non-medical non-essentials.
Repice advises those close to the family in question to feel free to offer to go to the home of the family in treatment to bring favorite items from home. This is not a boundary violation.
If the family is uncomfortable with this offering they will politely decline. It is, however, very helpful to have the option to have things forgotten brought to the hospital by non-family members.
When nothing is familiar and everything feels uncertain, seemingly little gestures of support can bridge the chasm more than we know.
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