Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.5: Understand how to support children who are unwell
Learning outcome: Understand how to support children for planned hospital admission
Assessment criteria: Describe how the Early Years practitioner supports a child to prepare for a stay in hospital
Planned stays in hospital are scheduled visits to the hospital. This could be for a surgical operation or for medical practitioners to conduct tests to help diagnose an illness. In contrast, unplanned stays in the hospital would be visits to the hospital following an accident or sudden unexpected illness.
Planned stays in a hospital may be scary and stressful for young children; however, with the right preparation and support, adults can help alleviate the worry and ensure that they are a positive experience.
Early Years practitioners have a crucial role to play in this process and will have to work closely with the child’s parents/carers to achieve the best possible outcomes. This ensures consistency in information and reassurance the child receives between both the home and Early Years setting. Practitioners may also work with other professionals, such as doctors or nurses.
It is essential for Early Years practitioners to provide the child with accurate and developmentally appropriate information about their upcoming stay in the hospital. This should be done in a way that is sensitive to the child’s needs and age, using language that they will understand. It is also important to answer any questions the child may have honestly and openly.
The practitioner should also spend time normalising the hospital environment for the child. Some hospitals allow children to visit before their planned stay to become familiar with the environment. This helps children to know what to expect when they attend their appointment.
Early Years practitioners should plan activities to prepare the child in their understanding of what will happen during their hospital stay.
For example, the use of role-playing or small-world play can be used to act out different aspects of the hospital stay, such as having an injection or staying in a hospital bed. This helps the child feel more confident and in control as they will have a better understanding of what will happen.
Practitioners could also read books with the child, look at pictures of hospitals or watch videos. If older children in the setting have already had a positive hospital experience, practitioners could ask them to talk to the other children about it.
If a child has a positive experience in the hospital setting, it will make them feel more at ease if they require further visits.