Preparing for a Hospital Stay Parents and teens from Sala Institute’s Family and Youth Advisory Councils share top tips

No matter your child’s age, preparing them (and you) for an upcoming hospital stay can feel daunting.

Teen patients and parents on Sala Institute’s Youth and Family Advisory Councils understand exactly what it’s like to focus on healing in the hospital by partnering with care providers at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. We’ve asked them to share their top five tips in case your child needs to stay in the hospital.

1. Remember to pack these!

The comforts of home: From stuffed animals to comfy clothes and blankets from home, families recommend packing items that will make you and your child feel a little more settled at the hospital.

Essentials for parents: In the flurry of preparing their child for the hospital, parents shared that they’d often forget to ready themselves for the stay. Bottled waters, baby wipes, AirPods, eye masks, pillows, books, and their own prescription medications were at the top of their “to remember” list.

“It’s great to bring things from home, but also know there is a lot at the hospital for you. Make use of the resources in place to support you, like MyWall and activities set up by Child Life.”

2. Partner with your care team

Teens shared that the doctors, nurses, child life specialists, social workers, and other team members at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital are very approachable and have every family’s best interest in mind. For this reason, they encourage kids and parents to communicate with the care team—including overnight—and to be honest about symptoms. Ask questions, advocate for yourself, and stay positive.

Parents recommend attending morning rounds but say not to worry if you miss them. You can always ask a member of the healthcare team for an update later.

 As an older teen, it was nice when there were services that supported my mom. That way she felt better and I had some time to myself.

Experience Counts

The Sala Family Advisory Council is made up of parent of patients, and the Sala Youth Advisory Council is made up of teens who have been patients at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital. These parents and teens tell us what works and what doesn’t, what we do well, and what could use some improvement. The goal is to make the experience better for others.

3. Line up help at home

For longer hospital stays, parents suggest leaning on friends and family to schedule support on the home front. This could include delivering meals, driving a child’s sibling to their activities, or running errands.

Apps like Lotsa Helping Hands can help with meal scheduling and transportation.

4. Stay connected online

Several families cited Caring Bridge as a great platform for keeping in touch with extended family and friends while at the hospital. They said the website does a great job of letting you update the people in your life about your child’s progress, which alleviates the need to field numerous texts and calls during the hospital stay.

Caring Bridge let friends and family provide support at a time when I was juggling a lot at the hospital.

5. To sleep, go with the flow

Sleeping soundly at night isn’t so easy for kids and parents alike, due to the multiple nurse check-ins and certain medical tests that may need to be done at night. Parents suggest sleeping whenever you can throughout the day. This is where eye masks, pillows, and blankets from home become really helpful.

Sleep whenever you can sleep, such as when your child is asleep.

 Bonus tip: Once you’re at the hospital, please take advantage of the Welcome Book and online resources created in partnership with Sala Institute.

Sala Institute provides vital supportive services and resilience programs to children and families and partners with healthcare providers to deliver the safest, highest quality care possible at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. This powerful combination of services helps children heal and families feel supported. This type of care is absolutely essential, and it is made possible with generous philanthropic support.