A hit on the head and where it led – guest review

A hit on the head and where it led 

Nick in Emergency

Written by Jennifer Cooper-Trent, illustrated by Anthony Mitchell
Momentum multimedia, Balgowlah, 2004.

 

– a book review by Nick

“A hit on the head” is a non-fiction book about a six year old who rode his bike into a car and got a hit on his head and how he got over this struggle.

The boy was knocked out and was rushed in an ambulance to the emergency room at the hospital. A torch was shone in his eyes “as bright as the moon”. He woke up and said “my head hurts”. There were some scans and tests and an operation to clear blood from his head. His mum, dad and teddy bear were at the hospital and in a few days he felt much better.

At school it was hard, he couldn’t do work easily and words got jumbled. His mum said his brain just needed a rest. Kids at school called him “brain damaged” and other names, it was a struggle.

Four years later his writing was great and this encourages other kids with brain damage or a hit on the head to keep trying and be strong.

On the back of the book it says “wear your hat man”. I always wear my helmet.

From my perspective as a young rider, falling off your bike is bad if it’s on concrete but some falls can easily be avoided by slowing down and thinking ahead, especially at corners and busy roads. When I fell off my bike and went to hospital it hurt but it’s good to know your family is there with you.

At school respect everyone and their different learning, including if they have been “hit on the head”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re bullied or not respect everyone.

By Nick, 11 years

(photo in hospital Emergency, bike accident took place a few years ago)

A hit on the head and where it led (with link to YouTube video) is available for loan from the AWCH library.

Other AWCH resources for families of children with a Traumatic Brain Injury include :

Out of the shadows: understanding the experience of siblings following their brother or sister’s Acquired Brain Injury [DVD]

Looking ahead: Returning to school after an acquired brain injury [DVD]

Step by step: a guide for families of children and adolescents with a brain injury (E-resource)

EdMed: Ronald McDonald learning program education medical guidelines

Out there! recreational activities and resources for young people with acquired brain injury. A guide for parents

Head injury, the facts: a guide for families and care-givers by Dorothy Gronwall, Philip Wrightson and Peter Waddell,

Caring for children with special healthcare needs and their families a handbook for healthcare professionals Edited by Linda L. Eddy, Oxford Wiley- Blackwell, 2013.

Pediatric traumatic brain injury by Jeffrey H. Snow and Stephen R. Hooper

Traumatic brain injury rehabilitation: services, treatments and outcomes Edited by M. Anne Chamberlain et al.

Children with acquired brain injury : planning and support guide for schools, preschools and childcare services Department of Education, Training and Employment, Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide

Children with acquired Brain Injury: educating and supporting families Edited by George H.S. Singer, Ann Glang and Janet M. Williams

Links

Books on brain injury for children and teens – Lash & Associates publishing

 

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library

 

George catches a cold – review

George catches a cold
Ladybird books, 2017
Based on the TV series Peppa Pig created by Neville Astley and Mark Baker

 

“Oh dear!” George was out in the rain and now has a cold.

It has been a terrible flu season and so many have been knocked flat. If you, or a little one near you has been sick and needs cheering up, Peppa pig might help bring a smile. Sickness can bring a sense of loss and confusion. Children recovering may be sad from activities missed and other uncertainties. “George catches a cold” could be a good conversation starter, helping parents listen and kids let feelings out.

Peppa pig fans will see a funny side to being sick. “Silly” George doesn’t like wearing his rain hat, he is having so much fun jumping in the muddy puddle and making noise. George throws his hat in the muddy puddle too. Peppa, in big sister fashion “grunts” disapproval, older siblings of toddlers may nod in agreement.

Sure enough, George catches a cold. Mummy pig thanks Doctor brown bear for coming. Your preschooler might relate to opening their mouth wide and saying “ahhh”. Perhaps, like George, they are worried and hold a favourite toy. George gets better and returns to his noisy self, family fun begins again. I hope you enjoy this calm, bright and quirky book, Peppa pig has alot to share.

 

How to help children cope when they are sick or need medical procedures?

Both health professionals and parents may want to know how to help children cope better during doctors visits and medical procedures. This can be particularly challenging for kids who don’t like to be touched, hate taking medicine, are in pain or experience unresolved fear from previous medical procedures.

Parents may need reassuring that it is OK if their child is crying when it is time for a needle or medical procedure. Paediatric nurse, Brooke Batchelor, hosts a helpful parent blog and Facebook page. In the Emergency department and at home Brooke has found a child laughing is a child releasing tension stored up. Brooke talks about play and “play listening”, little games that start laughter and lead to better coping. Parents and professionals who want to find out more, listen to the Handinhand parenting podcast “assisting children in your office or hospital setting” (50 min). For a quick read article on the value of play and preparing children try Taking the fear out of the hospital, with furry friends and fun by the Mayo clinic.

Why does AWCH keep talking about preparing kids and coping?

AWCH wants to help parents/carers and professionals make healthcare experiences as normal as possible allowing kids to keep on developing. When a newborn baby, young child, child or adolescent is not coping with healthcare experiences and their needs are not met, impacts can be carried into adult life. AWCH values parents and carers finding ways of coping, being less anxious and preparing children. Preparation in advance will help avoid trauma and lifelong negative impacts on health and wellbeing.

More links?

Find more links on AWCH library page, including Needles and Needle-related medical procedures.

 

 

Feedback

Is there something that works for you, for example with pill swallowing? Please share to help others.

 

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library
Please note: Books can be borrowed from the AWCH library within Australia (for the cost of postage). We have books for preschools and longday care centres to borrow, we also run healthcare familarisation storytime

Children in hospital: a guide for family & carers – review

Children in hospital: a guide for family and carers by Richard Lansdown
Oxford University Press (Oxford Medical Press) (1996) ISBN: 0-19-262357-5

“Matching the intervention to the child”…


Children in hospital: a guide for family and carers is an information-packed book combining research and personal experience. Written by Richard Lansdown, formerly consultant Psychologist at Great Ormond St Hospital London, one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals.

Although the book is over 20 years old, families, healthcare professionals, early childhood educators and students will find a useful overview supporting children in hospital and healthcare. Researchers continue to read this book today.

 
 

Child rights

Have we come to expect child-friendly services? Lansdown writes about early hospitals and emotional aspects such as separation and the battle of early visitors, this gives a significant background. Development of child rights in hospital, saw the emergence of advocacy organisations and the Charter for children in hospitals, NAWCH 1984.

In Australia, AWCH promoted child rights and better healthcare with Health care policy relating to children and their families published 1974, revised 1999 and Charter on the rights of children and young people in healthcare services, 2010. Understanding child rights in healthcare is essential. An 11 year old girl on a children’s ward in the UK asks “aren’t we kids supposed to have a bill of rights when we are in hospital?”, Children’s hospital charter revisited.

 
 

Fear and coping

Children and families going to hospital or healthcare appointments may be fearful, Lansdown approaches the topic from a child’s perspective without being simplistic. You will find practical information about children’s understanding of health, illness and treatment. Play in hospital and play specialists (also known as child life therapists or specialists) guide children towards meeting their emotional needs.

Pain

Parents and carers can be supportive when a child is in pain and often know what techniques are likely to distract their child during medical procedures such as injections. Children turn to their parents or carers to see if it is safe and to know what to do.

The chapter on pain gives an understanding of its impact on children. Information and support are based on the child’s developmental stage and what works for them. Supportive strategies for children facing painful procedures include active distraction. This may involve reading books, toys, songs, stories, video games, mobile apps and new technologies such as video goggles. Other supportive strategies are participation, desensitization and modelling, watching a film that shows other children and mastery coping or coping models (initial anxiety then coping). Being noisy (counting out loud), guided imagery, relaxation and breathing techniques are some more options to consider.

A combination of distraction strategies might be used such as bubble blowing and guided imagery. For example, a child is asked to visualize the colour of the pain and places it on a bubble as though it was an imaginary cloud floating away. As the pain moves off, the bubble changes to the child’s favourite colour, blowing away pain and fear (p 116).

 

Talking with children

Summaries of pain assessment tools show how children rate their pain. Why ask children about pain? Adults usually explain how important a procedure is but there could be a gap in the child’s thinking. For example, a finger prick/injection to take blood may leave some children wanting information about why it is being done and what will happen next with the blood.

 
Children in hospital: a guide for family and carers reviews literature and includes bibliographical references providing a quick source of information for healthcare professionals and students. Families will find it is easy to dip into relevant sections. This book gives a valuable overview on the wellbeing of children in healthcare and also shows glimpses of what a good children’s healthcare service should look like.

More information

For more information about supporting children through medical procedures, see Needles and Needle-Related Medical Procedures links.

AWCH also holds a copy of Needles: helping to take away the fear, a booklet for parents based on information provided by Dr Richard Lansdown produced by Action for Sick Children, 1994.

 
 
 
Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library
 

 

L is for Link to health information – resource

Searching for health information? 

Here’s some tips and tools to evaluate your way through the information jungle and link to better information


Are you looking for health information for your child? Perhaps you are creating a service for children or young people or even finding information on how to involve them? Whatever the reason, finding reliable information is important. The internet can be a “jungle” and searching for online information is often time consuming and confusing. The information age and deluge of data, means it is becoming harder to separate facts from pseudo-facts. Knowledgeable consumers evaluate information to make good decisions for their health and quality counts.

Daintree rainforest, north east Queensland


Families and sharing information

As consumers and healthcare professionals partner in care, health information is shared. Families living with chronic illness, complex health conditions and rare diseases are often experts in their child’s condition. Sharing helpful information and professional-consumer communication is the focus of our blog “K is for knowledge + patient”.
 

Consumer health information in Australia

Australians search for free, reliable information at HealthDirect (supported by state and Federal governments). The focus is on safe, practical information, including an A-Z of health topics, medicines, symptom checker and service finder. Facts or fiction? has consumer tips on seeking trustworthy online information. Don’t want to read… there’s a helpline to speak to a registered nurse, 24/7 and healthdirect app, which is also free. 


Two other resources with “user-friendly” health information are Health information and health products by BetterHealth channel and Raising Children Network.  At Raising Children Network find “My neighbourhood”, parents/carers enter their postcode to link to local services and link to intercultural health information.


Evaluating health information – USA

Go to MedlinePlus, (the world’s largest medical library), or view a video tutorial (from USA National Library of Medicine) for more information. See also, Finding and evaluating online resources, 5 quick questions on social media resources (USA National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).

Do you want to Trust it or Trash it? This quality assessment toolbox was created by Access To Credible Genetics (ATCG) Resource Network. There is also a developer toolbox for creating educational resources. MLA, the Medical Library Association, offers find good health information and top health websites.


Evaluating health information – United Nations and Europe

Health on the Net Foundation (HON), created the HON code, search, tools and topics for reliable information. The code provides a stamp of approval, good websites can approach HON to see if they are up to scratch. Now 20 years old, this NGO is accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Look for the HON code on Australian websites too, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

A useful website? European Commission has a quick checklist for useful websites, with pointers about whether a site is user focused.

Communication between families and health professionals

Access to reliable information should help families and healthcare professionals communicate and make decisions. The ability to ask questions about suggested treatments and procedures is important. Choose Wisely Australia, is an initiative from NPS MedicineWise. Look for 5 questions to ask your doctor.

Questioning quality of  information 

When searching for information, ask questions about information quality and avoid making assumptions. For example, an “expert” author may write about a topic they know well and also about other topics they know less about. Are we likely to rely on both equally, the topic the “expert” knows less about may not be as reliable.  Look beyond, politics, fashion etc. and at strengths and weaknesses of information.

The Knowledgeable patient: communication and participation in health. Edited by Sophie Hill available at AWCH library 613 HIL 1

Infographics

Infographics are now used more often because combining images together with health information can be very powerful. Complex health messages are shared more easily and quickly. Health information is communicated across cultures, age groups and literacy levels.


Organisations and government bodies create infographics, apps and digital technology to promote health information. Reliable information, based on children, young people and family needs, must under-pin any user-friendly format. How can children and young people be involved in creating something that makes sense to them? Investing in Children is one organisation that created films to celebrate their work on child rights and services based on the needs of children and young people.



Linking people + digital information

Whether searching via google scholar, government websites or databases (via libraries or health portals), journeying through the “information jungle” is challenging. Healthcare professionals and consumers link in the lookout for helpful information for healthier lives.

Health literacy
Health literacy refers to the ability individuals and communities have to engage with information and services. Visit the OpHeLia project, Deakin University, for information on health literacy.

Meaningful information is not just something we locate. Useful information is developed when individuals and community are involved and real needs are identified.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has conducted a survey to find out how Australians engage with digital services and access information to improve their health and wellbeing. The National Digital Health Strategy is underway. Emphasis is placed on families and individuals, with the slogan “Your health. Your say.” 

Consumer Health Forum highlights the value of health literacy in their submission on the National Digital Health Strategy. People need to find, understand and use health-related information and services, to make good decisions about their health. Find out more in their “response to questions for healthcare consumers, carers and families”, p 6.

Join the Australian digital health access conversation!

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library

In memory of Dr Graham Bench

As I was finalising my talk for the ACCYPN conference last week I was reflecting on how far we have come in the care of children and young people in healthcare since AWCH was established in 1973.  I was thinking of the dedicated and motivated individuals who came together to establish AWCH and drive change in the psychosocial wellbeing of children and young people in healthcare, when I received the sad news of Dr Graham Bench’s death.

Graham was a well known and much loved paediatrician of over 50 years. His involvement with AWCH began in 1975 and he held various positions within the organisation over the past 40 years. Notably he was treasurer to Quentin Bryce’s Presidency and was made an Honorary Life member of AWCH and was appointed an AWCH Ambassador in 2010 in recognition of the incredible contribution he made to AWCH.  Graham wrote the original AWCH Constitution and took on the role of visiting speaker to various organisations and fundraising for AWCH. As recently as only a few months ago Graham was speaking about the work of AWCH at a local club.
 
Graham has been a significant part of so many of AWCH’s achievements and he sums this up nicely in his own words,
 
 
“……my greatest thoughts about the work of AWCH are how much the wards in children’s hospitals have changed, how the whole attitude towards children in hospital has improved and thus lessened the psychological trauma that they suffer by being hospitalised and in particular our very wonderful establishment of the AWCH Ward Granny Scheme…..” 
 
Testimonial from Dr Graham Bench AWCH lifetime member and AWCH Ambassador on the 40th anniversary of AWCH.
 
On behalf of AWCH I would like to thank Graham for his tireless and outstanding contribution to improving the wellbeing of children and young people in healthcare across Australia for over 50 years – you will be remembered by so many with much affection and admiration.
A/Prof Alison Hutton

AWCH President

AWCH office email:  awch@awch.com.au
AWCH office phone: 02 9817 2439

October 2016
 

K – is for Knowledge + patient – resource

How do families and young people use knowledge to manage their health?

This is part one of two blogs on knowledge and patients. We now live in a “collaborative and social era”. Part one, hones in on some positives and drawbacks of online health information today. The way we gather knowledge effects communication with health professionals.  Could there be new opportunities for families and health professionals to collaborate? Part two is about finding reliable health information online, people are more aware quality and accuracy count.

Online health information and “e-health communication”
are on trend but do they help?

Health information, how do we get it?
Millennium generation children are amongst the first to turn to digital and social media to get information. This could be a “positive”, when healthcare goes online for young people, with services such as Headspace.  Young people also need to be connected in healthcare settings. Digital access helps meet social, emotional and educational needs.

For preschool children an App with a game may be both educational and fun. Okee medical imaging, is engaging, builds skills and prepares for a medical encounter, taking away the fear factor.

Most Australians go to their GP, to find health information.  Even if we rank health professionals advice highly, families and individuals are increasingly turning to the Internet, Dr Google and digital resources. Here’s the drawback, could all this information at our fingertips, leave us more confused and lost in the “information noise”? Are people exposed to unsolicited health information and does this affect what happens between health professional and patient?

Not “just a patient”

Karen Price in her GP blog on health literacy and patients, says GPs have a complex job and a big part of what they do is teach patients. The word doctor is derived from the Latin “to teach”. Price points out, doctors and patients work together in an “increasingly educative partnership”.

GPs are aware they need to respond by providing patient held health information. This includes online information and help on ‘surfing’ the web.

Consumers of health care
Effective communication between consumers and health professionals is critical to better health in Australia. Consumer experience, understanding and knowledge are particularly relevant in an era of complex healthcare, chronic illness and rare disease.

The Knowledgeable patient: Communication and participation in health edited by Sophie Hill (Cochrane review) 2011, spotlights communication between health professionals and consumers. It encompasses people with complex health needs and the rare disease community.

A knowledgeable patient is someone who asks questions about medical information, provides insight into experiences and uses technology to find health information. As contributors, they add quality to healthcare benefitting everyone.

Learning to communicate, chapter 11, introduces steps health professionals, consumers and consumer groups can take to improve communication skills and “interaction”. Involvement and communication skills of patients and health professionals is crucial to improved health systems and outcomes.

Children as consumers
Children are frequent consumer health service users. Little was written on “enhancing the health-related communication skills of the child as a patient, the parents or siblings, or the health professionals involved” [p. 137].

Online social support and wellbeing
Online support can be both informative and empowering. A recent article found families within the rare disease community value e-health communication for social and emotional support.

What is supportive comes from evidence, research, from practice, personal stories and community, including peer support. Genetic Alliance Australia is an umbrella group for rare genetic conditions/disease. Conditions may be so rare there is no support group.

AWCH Facebook is a “heads-up” on Australian child wellbeing and healthcare initiatives with a focus on social and emotional issues of children and young people in healthcare. Find Australian health promotion events, child or family health surveys, research, reports and education. AWCH shares like-minded parent and professional posts, with emphasis on NSW and national. Visual content is also shared through pinterest.

Tracking and managing health

Families face pressures keeping up with health programs, appointments and health insurance.

Health organisations recognise people are using innovations to manage and cope with health and illness.


A knowledgeable patient is also someone who uses technology to track and manage personalised health data. People may wear connected devices and this information can be shared with health professionals. Consumers now receive screening information and test kits in the mail. Busy parents/carers turn to Apps to manage family health appointments, Save the date to vaccinate. Healthcare is delivered to the door, on the streets, community hub, over the phone or via the internet.

Access for all?
A recent report, Looking the other way: young people and self-harm, by Orygen, found adolescents and young people who self-harm received poor community response. Young people didn’t feel supported in the Emergency department and felt GPs didn’t know how to treat them.

Report findings concluded a need for youth and family resources and National standards for health professionals treating those who self-harm. Youth with lived experience of self-harm should be involved in developing resources including Apps, web-based online and peer support.

Access to reliable health information is a public health dilemma. Young people ask for their opinions to be valued in a collaborative approach.

Links
Many of us use search engines for health information and are disappointed with the results. Part 2 of this blog links to organisations helping consumers hunt for reliable information.


Jillian Rattray

AWCH Librarian
http://library.awch.org.au
March 2016

J is for Joking Around in Hospital

Mention the word “hospital” to a child and chances are thoughts of fun won’t spring to mind. This is with good reason. Infants, children and teenagers in hospital or facing repeated hospital stays understand about pain and fearfulness. Sick children see hospital differently from adults. Children’s thoughts about hospital also differ depending on their age. Young children may want more than anything to have their family close and sometimes this isn’t possible. They also want lots of play and toys. School children often have many questions and need answers about what is happening. Adolescents value privacy and social and educational spaces. Young patients surveyed in a recent report Admitted children and young patients survey results 2014 indicated there was room for improvement in what is available to do in hospital (more books, games, toys).

Hospital, a friendly and healing environment?
For children and young people the hospital environment is not just about clinical care. Human needs count. An interactive, engaging and aesthetically pleasing environment and a friendly, caring welcome from the hospital community is important. Children find ways to connect with their environment, such as creating a personal bedside with pictures, photos, decorations and cards.  Children’s hospitals make their environments more child-friendly through bright colour, plants, toys, artworks, arts and craft, books, a visit to the hospital playroom, games room, multi-sensory room, healing garden, natural space or playground. Child-friendly places where family can gather, play and be together make all the difference.

Children and young people’s social and emotional needs
One study looked at the views of young children and found that children between five and seven years like “funny”, “friendly” and “happy” doctors and nurses. Being in hospital and a strange environment is challenging, particularly when children aren’t prepared for the experience.

Clown Doctors
How can “joking around” help children in hospital? Clown Doctors™ are amongst the people in hospital who help kids cope. If you have met one you will know they simply ooze fun. Their tools include a “goody bag” of gags and a fine appreciation for quirky antics and silliness. Perhaps Clown Doctors are the antithesis of all things serious in hospital but they do play a serious role. Clown Doctors take therapeutic play and art forms, such as drama, music and song, jokes and gags to hospital bedsides, emergency, preoperative rooms, wards, playrooms and other hospital spaces.

Clown Doctors understand about the feelings of sick children, their families and health professionals who they meet. Sick children have a changed body image and find themselves in a passive patient role. Clown Doctors turn things upside down using humour. The Clown Doctor, has a white doctor’s coat, with bright collar, maybe a tie and “medical equipment” but that’s where the resemblance stops. The rest is very much “clown”.


 Clown Doctors dose sick children in hospital with fun and laughter!

Clown Doctors unique dress mode suits their unique task. Using a toolbox of skills and understandings, they modify and interpret play and activities to fit with a child and family’s needs and responses. Clown Doctors help reduce anxiety and emotional responses in preoperative rooms where children and parents wait before minor operations. In some hospitals, Clown Doctors work in Emergency helping children by distracting them during painful procedures. The positive impact lasts beyond their interaction. Clown Doctors bring joy to children with serious illness, who experience extended and repeated hospital stays. Children are transported out of the medical, into the magical with humour and laughter.

Who is joking around now?
A sick child may swap roles and “become” the doctor who practises with medical play. This contrast leads a child into a stronger place. With the positive benefits of laughter children relax, have reduced muscle tension and pain and stress are taken away.  They cope with sad and hurt feelings and feel good and in control. Clown Doctors also bring humour and laughter to parents, siblings and carers as well as healthcare professionals. Happier and less anxious families and health professionals journey with children towards better health.

Clown Doctors™ is run by the Humour Foundation and does not receive government or hospital funding. They rely on community support to fund programs, visit their website to find out more.

Thank you Clown Doctors™ for contributing photographs.


Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
January 2016

I is for Immunisation

It was early spring. At a gathering of friends my son began to cough. His face turned red. He calmly got up and walked away doubled over. Concerned adults looked on. One jumped up and asked “is he choking?” This was the aftermath of whooping cough – the 100-day cough.

On a grey rainy day, listening to the radio, a segment on whooping cough was announced. There’s a spike in whooping cough (NSW Health recorded 3134 cases in 2014 and 8621 cases so far in 2015). Guest, Peter Collignon, ANU Medical school, spoke about timely molecular tests, which detect the DNA of bacteria that cause whooping cough.  The infectious nature of this respiratory disease produces toxins which damage airway linings. Infants have very little protection and are at higher risk. The vaccine has 75% + immunity, waning over time.

Prof Peter McIntyre, Children’s Hospital at Westmead speaks in an informative short film. Parents explain the tragic death of their infant who had whooping cough, asking “why don’t people know, why don’t adults know they need a booster?”

For my family, the beginning of spring had seen us with whooping cough, times four.  The first person to get sick in the family had become the guinea pig.  I consulted Healthdirect Australia which explains early identification and a specific antibiotic that lessens symptoms.

It took three appointments with GPs before we were on the right track to diagnosing whooping cough. By this time my second whooping cough victim was also moving from coughs to night time coughs, gasps and some vomiting. Whooping cough can be difficult to identify unless it is picked up in the first few weeks.

Health authorities advocate best protection is through immunisation. Immunisation may have problems but leads to herd protection.  The Australian government report, Immunisations myths and realities, responds to arguments against vaccination. Whooping cough is still here but immunised people are much less likely to have severe complications.

“babies in a cloud of cotton wool”

Pregnant women are encouraged to get free vaccinations passing on some level of immunity. Also fathers, grandparents and anyone around newborns are encouraged to have boosters. Someone said “It is a bit like wrapping babies in a cloud of “cotton wool”.

Campaigns such as Save the date to vaccinate, Apps to download or printed immunisation schedules are helpful reminders.

Emotionally draining for families

Doctors inform and we benefit from their clinical experience and knowledge of evidence based medicine. This is invaluable. When people get sick under these circumstances there are a lot of intangibles which can be emotionally draining. Where did it come from and who else is affected? For parents who are lacking sleep, asking the right questions can be difficult. I found it helpful to call Healthdirect or NSW Health, Communicable Diseases. The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, NCIRS provides consumer resources.

I heard varied medical advice amongst families about diagnosis, nasal or throat swabs, test result waiting times, staying home or not whilst waiting, who should take the antibiotic, be given a booster or stay home if symptom free.

In my neighbourhood, none of the three chemists stocked the antibiotics for children in liquid form. Parents with sick children, trailed about trying to commence the antibiotic as soon as possible.

Adolescents take part in school immunisation programs. Some avoid their injections. Department of Health shares tips for parents about how to make this easier, reducing fear and apprehension. Teens who don’t want to line up in a large hall may find medical practices with experienced nurses and doctors reassuring.

AWCH Child Health Library has a number of useful resources to help prepare yourself and your child for a vaccination:

An end to whooping cough?

In September I wrote, “Its night-time and I hear my children coughing, sometimes in unison, gasping for air and gagging. The oldest didn’t get early diagnosis or antibiotics and the coughing started a month ago.” An end to whooping cough is not in sight but will awareness change its impact?


Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
November 2015

Parenting children with health issues and special needs: essentials for raising happy, healthier kids

Condensed version. 2009.
By Foster W. Cline, M.D. and Lisa C. Greene

Just in case you have read too many parenting books and your interest factor has plummeted, this little book might spark your imagination and hand over some useful parenting tools.

What makes the difference here? Children with health issues or special needs are the focus and parenting tools described, go with what is already working in families. The authors talk about “consultant parents” and before you wonder if this is just an idea floating around, this approach comes from many years of hands-on experience and research.

The book encourages parents who find it challenging to know how to motivate their children to take medication or make positive health choices, such as when to fit in physical therapy. The “consultant parent” is not a “helicopter parent” or a “drill sergeant”. Read about ways to inspire children to make healthy choices and look after themselves. This approach focuses on family, building healthy relationships with “love” as the underpinning ingredient.

About the authors: Foster Cline is a well-known North American psychiatrist, physician, author and international speaker. Lisa Greene is a mother of two children with cystic fibrosis and a parent educator. She is raising her children with Love and logic parenting tools.

Families of children with cancer were given the book through the American Childhood Cancer Organization, Inland Northwest. This book is the condensed version of award-winning Parenting children with health issues, link to the web page for families. Resources, include video, audio and articles from the Blog. Topics span from parenting children of different ages, including teens, transition, school life, couples relationships and community. Special feature articles may capture an interest, Caring and compassion: the do’s and don’ts for giving and receiving support during hard times.

AWCH Library has a copy available for loan for people within Australia, please email your interest.

Jillian Rattray

H is for Healthcare preparation

“…positive healthcare experiences for children shape their long term good health and wellbeing.” (1)

Why prepare for healthcare?
“It took me lots of work to get over my fear of dentists!” Rachel exclaimed. As a child, dental surgeries were “no go zones” with metamorphosis taking place. She became a scratching, biting “wild child”. Now a mother of three, family dentist visits are routine.

Does this remind you of a childhood experience? Healthcare professionals (HCPs), know something small to an adult may be traumatic for a child.

AWCH helps parents
AWCH was amidst an emerging “groovy” movement of international organisations in the 1960’s -70’s supporting emotional care of children in hospital. Others were Action for Sick Children, EACH and Children in Hospital Ireland, yeah baby!

Terrified children aren’t peeled from parents/carers during healthcare today. This is not something to blink at, for a long time parents have been involved in their child’s hospital care (Please don’t leave me film, 1979). AWCH put this best practice in motion in Australia, now seen as the norm, so much so that most people can’t recall it any other way.

AWCH educated parents in the 1970’s about healthcare preparation with AWCH Barwon branch launching a poster (1979), Is your child to be hospitalised? How would you explain to him?

AWCH Child Health Library has great reads for children on healthcare familiarisation including picture books.

Australian parent resources have evolved in the last few years:

  • Child life therapists are healthcare professionals helping children and young people cope with medical procedures and hospital.  Keeping kids needs in the picture, by Renee Campbell (Child Life Therapist) is for parents supporting their children through medical imaging.
  • The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, NPS Medicine Wise and AWCH partnered to create awareness for parents on medical imaging and kids. There’s now an App for parents and professionals.

Hospital familiarisation and healthy kids
AWCH WA runs Hospital Familiarisation Program (HFP). “Designed to prepare young healthy children for possible hospitalisation or visits to the doctor or dentist. The aim is to minimise anxiety, fear and misconceptions children may have about medical intervention.”

Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Health education unit offers “Hospital Explorer Box: a play and learn resource kit for stage 1 students” (contact Schools Project Officer, Health Education Unit). Other community hospital incursions are available.

Thanks to the children who coloured in cut-outs
from Althea adding their colourful interpretation.

Preparing in an emergency?
One quarter of children in NSW visit an emergency department in a year. In an emergency parents may not pack a hospital bag especially not with their child’s help (children learn this way). Also stressed parents may not bring a toy, book, soft toy or comfort blanket. Going out usually involves taking a drink and snacks but in an emergency and chance of medical procedure, don’t give food or drink.  Parents can ask health professionals about medical procedures and become advocates for their child, taking a moment to ask questions if unsure. Parents are there to comfort kids.

If you liked this blog, you might also like The three little “P’s” – Playgroup and Peppa Pig which touches on one parent’s traumatic experience of hospital without preparation. We’d love to hear from you if you have related comments/experiences.

Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
October 2015