Support & Helping you Cope when your child is in PICU
During your child's stay in PICU, our team will do our best to provide you with regular, up to date, honest, simple information on your child's condition. Being in PICU is stressful and alienating, it can feel that for the first time in you child's life you have no control over what is happening to him or her. Getting involved in your child's basic personal care can help you recover some of that relationship. It is also very important that you take time to care for yourself: it is hard to process complicated information or make decisions if you are tired, thirsty, hungry or need the toilet.
If your child is a recent newborn, then you may have medical needs yourself related to the birth. We work closely with our colleagues in the Maternity Unit next door and can arrange for you to see a Midwife or Obstetric doctor if needed.
You may also have practical issues to worry about: like being far from home, absent from work or having other children to arrange care for. We can arrange temporary accommodation on the hospital campus in Ronald McDonald House. If you have family support financial concerns we can put you in touch with the Family Support Service or the Hospital Social Worker, who will support and advise you on what assistance is available. If you require to take compassionate leave from your employment, then one of our Consultants will be happy to provide a letter of supporting evidence for this.
If your child has died
Unfortunately around 1-3 of the hundred or more children admitted to our PICU every month will not survive their illness. Deaths are rare occurences that deeply affect our staff, but they are simply an incomprehensible event for a child's parents and their extended family. The PICU team will do our utmost to support you at this awful time. We willl allow you to spend as much time as your require with your child during their final hours and after they have died. We work closely with our colleagues at the Children's Hospices, and can arrange for your child to be moved to the family room at the Hospice either during their last hours or after death.
We can also help with the formalities that are required after death. Sometimes this can just be something simple like making a phonecall for you. We will advise you on how to go about the necessary preparations and paperwork after the death of a child.
After 4-6 weeks, all bereaved parents or carers will be offered a follow up visit with the Consultants who cared for their child. This meeting will take place in a different area of the hospital, away from PICU, to avoid the trauma of returning to the place of death. The majority of parents tell us that these visits are very useful and help them to process things that perhaps they were unable to think about during their child's last illness.
Currently the Child Bereavement Service at the hospital is closed due to staff sickness, but we will endeavour to put you in touch with other support agencies. The following charities also offer support to bereaved families: