University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust

Preparing for your child for admission to Ocean ward

We know that preparing your child for a surgical procedure can be a very stressful time and we understand that talking about surgery can be difficult, but some preparation before admission helps most children gain a sense of control through understanding.

As parents or carers, it is important that you understand as much as possible about the planned hospital admission, otherwise it can be difficult to confidently prepare your child. If you would like to discuss your child’s treatment and admission with a member of staff, you can contact the cardiac liaison team on 023 8120 4659.

It is important to explain to your child why they are coming into hospital in a way that they understand. We have some age related guidelines below, that may be useful.

Age-related guidelines

Newborn to 2 years

When your child is very young, concentrate on preparing yourself for hospital. If you feel at ease, your child will be able to sense this and react in the same way.

2 to 3 years

At this age, children do not understand hospital visits and surgery in the same way that an older child would. The ward play specialists recommend using toys and books to help prepare your child for coming into hospital. Consider telling your child about his or her operation or procedure one or two days before coming into hospital.

3 to 6 years

At this age, children are beginning to learn about the days of the week and are developing a sense of time. It can be hard for a child to understand why they need an operation or procedure and your child may worry that they have done something wrong. Reassure your child that their hospital stay is about fixing their heart and not a punishment, by using simple and short explanations. Consider telling your 3 to 4 year old child one to two days before the procedure, and your 5 to 6 year old child, three to five days ahead of their admission.

7 to 11 years

Children of this age are able to understand the reason for their hospital stay or procedure. You may want to tell your child about their operation a week before going into hospital. This will give your child plenty of time to ask questions and to talk to you about any worries they may have.

12 to 16 years

It is best to include children and young adults in planning for their operation or procedure from the beginning. Encourage your child to ask questions and to talk about their worries about coming into hospital. You may want to ask your child how you can help them through their procedure.