As a parent or carer, one of the most important preparations for admission is for you to understand as much as possible about the planned surgery so that you can confidently prepare your child.

If you feel that you need to know more you can contact the Specialist Nurse or Lead Clinician who will help you find the answers to your questions.

For more complex procedures, try to understand what possible complications there could be and whether there is any likelihood of further trips to theatres after the initial surgery.

Some hospitals offer pre-admission preparation which can include a specific pre-admission clinic or chance to meet one of the surgeons. This is a really good opportunity to get more information, ask questions and get familiar with the environment.

You may feel that you don’t need to see the ward, theatres or the intensive care unit yourself but remember that your child may have been a baby at their last admission. A visit could help to allay any fears or worries.

If you can, talk to other parents about the procedure your child is due to have and try to find out how their child responded to the procedure. Every child is different but talking to other parents can be useful to help you anticipate what is to come.

It is important to plan your time away from work if relevant. You could make an appointment to see your manager to explain what is planned and give them an idea of how much time you might need away from work. It might also be helpful to discuss the admission with your GP.

What you may be unprepared for is how off you may feel after your child’s surgery.  You need to think about the support you may need as well. You’ll have prepared for the hospital stay and invested a great deal of emotional energy to get through it. Once it’s over instead of feeling relief it can be normal to feel low or depressed. Be gentle with yourself and if possible plan to have some ‘recovery time’ for yourself. Perhaps a holiday or some support from family and friends.

There are a number of resources out there that can help you prepare your child for surgery. You may find the following books and websites useful:

‘I don’t want to go to hospital’ by Tony Ross

‘Going to the hospital’ by Usborne First Experiences

‘My first visit to hospital’ by Rebecca Hunter

‘Talking it through – Hospital’ by Althea

www.rcoa.ac.uk – “You child’s general anaesthetic: information for parents and guardians of children” by the Royal College of Anaesthetists

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