Preparing for your visit
Children need to understand what is going to happen when they come to hospital. To help with this, we have put together some tips you may find useful:
- Be clear and honest when explaining and answering their questions
- Choose a quiet time when you won’t be interrupted
- Use storybooks, leaflets or pictures to help you explain. Helpful books which you should be able to find in your local library include ‘When I went to hospital’ by Juliet Bawden and ‘Going into hospital’ by Anne Civardi
- Play doctors and nurses at home with them – you can buy hospital play sets to help with this
- Arrange to visit the ward or department once you know which one your child is going to
- If your child is going to have an operation, explain that they will have a special sleep (anaesthetic) and might feel a little sore afterwards, but the nurses will give them some medicine to help them feel better.
- Reassure your child that you will be able to stay with them
- Involve your child in planning to come into hospital by deciding what special toy to bring with them, choosing which pyjamas to take or buying something new, for example a toothbrush.
If you have any questions about preparing your child, please email the play team on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the ward or unit your child will be visiting. Contact details should be written on your child’s admission letter.
Documents and information
- The medications your child currently takes, including non-prescribed medications and herbal preparations
- Information regarding allergies to food or medications
- Information about any special dietary needs
- Maternal child health record book
- The name, address and phone number of your GP and/or local paediatrician.
Personal items for your child
- Medical equipment or disability aids (if applicable)
- Pyjamas (lightweight), dressing gown and slippers
- Toiletries – including a toothbrush, toothpaste, brush or comb
- Special toy or cuddly blanket
- Any special powders or milk (we supply standard baby milk).
Personal items for you
If you are staying overnight, please bring along:
- A sleeping bag and pillow
- Personal toiletries.
If you are attending for the day only, you may find it helpful to bring your child’s pram or buggy and their formula milk.
You can also bring personal equipment such as portable DVD players, MP3 players, laptops/tablets or hand-held consoles, but please make sure these items are labelled. Please note the ward cannot accept responsibility for their safety.
Each ward has its own policy about bringing in your child’s own bed linen. Please ring the ward your child is being admitted to if you are unsure.
Your child’s visit may be for an appointment, day stay or overnight stay. Our experience tells us that the more parents and children know about the hospital and what to expect, the better the children and their families feel.
If your child is coming for surgery
For more information to help your child prepare for an operation, the Royal College of Anaesthetists website has some information sheets featuring Rees Bear has an anaesthetic, Davy the Detective and General Anaesthesia. You can read these together with your child, or print them off, from www.rcoa.ac.uk
Fasting or nil by mouth
Children don’t like being hungry or thirsty but fasting is necessary to make having an anaesthetic (medicine given to make your child go to sleep) as safe as possible. Please refer to your admission letter advising you of when to come to the hospital and follow any fasting instructions carefully.
Your anaesthetist may, after meeting your child, allow him or her a drink of clear fluids if there is time before their procedure begins, but it is very important you follow the written instructions.
If you do not follow the advice, your child’s operation or procedure may have to be rearranged. If you have any questions about the fasting instructions, please contact your child’s doctor.
Wrist identification bracelets
When your child is admitted, he or she will have a plastic name bracelet attached around their wrist or ankle. One or two bracelets are placed on each child. These tell the staff your child’s name, date of birth and unique hospital number.
A trip to theatre involves travelling through a number of different departments within the hospital, such as the day surgery ward, the operating theatre and recovery room.
Your child will be cared for by a number of different medical and nursing staff members. For this reason, you will be asked on several occasions to confirm that the information contained on your child’s identification bracelets is correct, and that the procedure undertaken is the one documented on the consent form you have signed.
It may seem unnecessary to be asked these questions repeatedly, but it is part of a safety system that is in place to ensure that the right child gets the right care.
Going off to sleep
The process of going to theatre and the ways that your child can be made to go to sleep will be discussed with you before your child’s operation.
Recovery room or post anaesthetic care unit
This is where your child will be taken to wake up after surgery. Nursing staff will call you into the recovery room as soon as possible after your child arrives. Your child will remain in the recovery room to be monitored by nursing staff, until he or she is fully awake and safe to return to the ward.
Children’s pain management service
The children’s pain management service is a team that oversees acute pain management, usually after an operation. Any patient may be seen by the team to ensure that their pain is being managed as effectively as possible.
Our wards are shared with other children and their families. Single rooms are available; these are allocated depending on children’s clinical care needs.
Daily ward activities
Activities and routines differ on each ward, so please ask your child’s nurse if you have any questions.
Help with school work while in hospital
There is a team of qualified local education authority teachers available to support your child with their school work while they are in hospital. Our teachers offer a relaxed classroom environment for all ages as well as bedside teaching for anyone who cannot be moved.
A child can be referred to attend the school if their predicted stay in hospital is more than five day or if they have to be readmitted.
To find out more, please ask to speak to one of the hospital teachers.
Staying with your child
Parents are always welcome to spend as much time as possible with their child and can be involved with their care. You may also stay with your child during most medical treatments.
Leaving the ward
If you wish to take your child away from the ward, please check with the nursing staff that he or she is well enough to leave. Our staff need to know where you will be going and for how long.
Mealtimes for the children vary on each ward, so please check with the nursing staff. Let the nursing staff know if your child has any special dietary needs. If your child is required to fast, our staff will inform you. Please do not offer food or drink to other children, as they may have special dietary needs or be fasting.
Breastfeeding mothers of infants under one month of age may have meals provided during their child’s stay. Please ask the nurse looking after your child.
Televisions are provided in all our ward areas and we ask that families do not bring in portable televisions. DVDs for children are available on most wards.
Free wifi for patients and visitors
Funded by Southampton Hospital Charity, we are now able to offer free to use wifi for our patients and visitors to do the normal things online as they would at home. This includes the ability to stream audio and video, access online banking and keep in touch with loved ones via social media and messaging apps.
- Go to your wifi settings
- Select 'NHSwifi'
- Sign in or register to The Cloud
Most wards have a playroom, which can provide a welcome distraction for patients. The playrooms are supported by our play specialists and volunteers.
Our volunteer-run radio station, Radio Lollipop, broadcasts to our children’s wards 24 hours a day, with live broadcasts on several nights of the week.
Children can take part in themed play sessions and quizzes with volunteers on the wards, request their favourite songs or just listen along.
SCH therapy dogs
We have a team of volunteer therapy dogs and handlers who visit Southampton Children’s Hospital to bring smiles to the patients, siblings and staff at the hospital. Their visits cover all sorts of animal assisted intervention from general meet and greet visits to supporting children at the time of medical examination or procedures.
Lyndsey, Karen, Liz and Hannah are the team of handlers. Lyndsey studied Animals and Human Health at the Institute for Human Animal Connection at the University of Denver; she holds the certificate in animal assisted therapy, activities and learning. Together with their team of clinical therapy dogs they try to visit as many of the children as they can.
The team looking after your child will include many different health professionals and support staff. You may notice that not everyone wears a uniform, but all our staff must wear an identification badge.
Matron is a senior nurse and has overall responsibility for the management of our wards.
Senior sister is the most senior nurse on each ward and has overall responsibility for managing that ward.
Sisters are experienced registered nurses on each shift and have responsibility for running the ward during that shift.
Clinical nurse specialists are registered nurses who have specialist skills in a particular area of nursing care.
Staff nurses are registered nurses, some of who may be newly qualified and some of who have many years’ experience in caring for children and young people.
Senior healthcare assistants are nursing support staff who are trained to undertake some of the nursing tasks.
Healthcare assistants are nursing support staff who help look after your child by providing basic nursing care such as feeding and washing.
Registrars are doctors who are enrolled in a specialist training program, working towards becoming a consultant.
Consultants are doctors who have spent many years training in their specialist area. Your child will be admitted under the care of a consultant who will also supervise the registrar. You may not see the consultant on every occasion but he or she will remain in charge of your child’s treatment.
Ward clerks help with the general smooth running of the ward, providing many administrative and customer service tasks.
Housekeepers look after the ward environment and also help with kitchen duties and food service.
Other health staff
You and your child may meet one or more of our other health staff.
Dieticians are specialists in nutrition and its role in health and disease. Our dieticians are available for advice on all aspects of infant and child nutrition including assessment, recommendations for nutritional management and implementation of therapeutic diets within hospital.
Pharmacists are qualified professionals who are part of the healthcare team. The pharmacist will look after all drug matters while your child is in hospital and is available to answer any questions you may have about the medication your child is prescribed.
Social workers can help with emotional support during times of crisis, arranging counselling for parents, children, young people and other family members and assisting with community care.
Physiotherapists work in a variety of areas. They can assess your child and develop a special programme to suit his or her needs. They monitor their progress and teach you the skills to help them perform everyday tasks.
Our physios can also help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home and return to crèche, nursery or school, in conjunction with you, your child, healthcare workers and teachers.
Occupational therapists work with children and families to help your child manage daily activities such as self-care, play and pre-school and school tasks.
When your child is discharged from hospital, we may refer you and your child to a community-based service.
Speech therapists specialise in managing babies, children and young people who have speech, language and voice problems that make communication difficult. They also work with children who have problems swallowing food and drink.
Your speech therapist will work with your healthcare team to understand, plan and manage your child’s treatment to ensure your child receives the best care and advice.