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Extra vigilance is exhausting for parents

Extra vigilance is exhausting for parents

As winter is here I am aware this is a time for families to be extra vigilant in regard to protecting their children from the many virus’s and bacterial infections that are more prevalent at this time of the year.

Protection of children who are already living with compromised health needs becomes the high priority for many families.  Winter brings about a different set of challenges that impacts on everyone in the family.  More children are admitted to the paediatric department as chest infections are life-threatening for some children.

Parents become exhausted with the extra vigilance, sleep deprivation, and further cares that are required at this time.  Some children spend weeks at a time in hospital recovering from bacterial chest infections; the hospital becomes a place of “second home”

As I see children regularly returning to the children’s wards due to their complex health needs it is timely to remind ourselves as health professionals of the difficult time this is for families.  Parent’s try and balance the care in the home and having someone stay with their child in hospital which adds to the stress levels.

I am reminded of how important it is to give clear communication at a time when stress levels are high.  Parents frequently share with me their increased anxiety that occurs because health professionals have given mixed messages regarding care or have not taken the time to explain what is happening with their child.

As health professionals we sometimes forget the impact our words have on families already feeling the intensity of illness and the many challenges that are faced on a day to day basis.

My role is to advocate strongly for the children, young people and their families through listening to their needs and informing the appropriate people so these requirements are met in the best possible way.


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