Be involved in your, or your child’s care

Being actively involved in your own, or your child's care will help you feel empowered and in control of part of the process and not simply a bystander. As a carer for a child it will be easier for your child to cope if you have prepared them well in advance and explained what is going to happen before it starts, so they feel they are prepared. It can be frightening for a child to have nurses unexpectedly fiddling with an IV (intravenous) line or changing dressings. If you take the time to explain what’s going to happen, your child will feel comforted and supported by your involvement in their care.

Becoming involved in some of the basic caring for your child is a positive action for a few reasons:

  • It helps to normalise the hospital stay for your child if you are their main carer.
  • It maintains a familiar daily routine.
  • It protects your child’s modesty. Even small children feel awkward being undressed and bathed by strangers.

You can help by being actively involved in your or your child’s basic daily care including changing bedding, washing daily, cleaning teeth, brushing hair and changing into fresh clothes each morning. You may like to ask a relative or friend to assist if you have had the surgery.

If you are a parent staying in hospital, ask if you can be shown the location of the linen, or if they would mind getting it for you and change your child's bedding each day or as it becomes soiled throughout the day. It is important to have clean bedding, everybody feels better when they are lying on clean sheets.

Dress your child in clean clothes or a new gown each day or each time their clothes are soiled. This can be tricky if an IV drip line is attached to an arm or a hand. You can ask the nurse to disconnect the IV to assist with changing your child or getting changed yourself. They will be happy to assist you and probably delighted you want to take on more of a caring role. Sometimes if medication is being flushed through the IV you will have to wait for this to finish, but then your nurse will unscrew the end of the IV line and seal off the IV with a small cap.

Take t-shirts, singlets or short sleeved loose tops into hospital. Take care when you put arms in and out of sleeves and whenever you are working around the IV bung to ensure you don’t knock the site. A bump will make the site painful and you could dislodge the IV and it may need to be repositioned or replaced in a new site.

After your Mitrofanoff surgery or your child’s, loose boxer shorts can help to protect your modesty. The indwelling catheter tubes are threaded down through the leg holes.

Nurses will appreciate good manners, that you waited patiently and that you took some initiative to do some small things for yourself.