Flu or Flu-like illness in chronically ill or disabled children

Hospital inpatient care

After being assessed at Accident and Emergency or on the children’s ward, some children were admitted to hospital as an inpatient because they needed more specialist care. While some only needed to stay in overnight, others spent up to ten days in hospital. Jack was seriously ill with influenza and spent three weeks in the intensive care unit (ICU). 

Tests and treatment 

While on the hospital ward, children were monitored closely. Depending on their long term medical condition or disability, children might be treated with intravenous antibiotics, nebuliser and/or oxygen masks, steroids and some needed to be tube fed. Several children had been given fluids if they were dehydrated.
Most parents spoke very positively about the care their children received while staying in hospital. Parents were sometimes closely involved in the care of their children while they were on the ward. Naomi gave her daughter insulin injections. Nia felt she could have been given more help by the nurses, especially for toileting and bathing of her baby when he was attached to drips and other wires. Fiona was able to look at daughter’s chest X-ray.
Naomi’s daughter usually has a room on her own when she is in hospital. Others shared a room or were on a six bedded unit which did mean a lack of privacy for parents during the night. Naomi’s daughter loved being in hospital as did Rebecca’s 4 year old son because there was a play room and play specialist and they knew all the staff. Sharon said the play leader was very good at distracting Henry who found hospital quite frightening because he needed intravenous antibiotics and blood tests.
How parents feel when their children are in hospital

It was usual for parents to feel worried and stressed when their child was in hospital. Worries about their child’s health and also managing their child’s fears or watching them have treatment contributed to the stress parents felt.
Several parents, including Rebecca, also felt relief. She says, “I always think of it as a bit of a relief to be honest… I feel really safe once we’re in hospital. The minute you walk in I feel like they know what they’re doing, and they’re going to deal with it properly.”

Although parents usually slept next to their children, either in the bed, or on a pull out sofa bed or a chair, they said they did not sleep much. Some could get food from the cafeteria or there was a kitchen where parents could make drinks and a fridge where they could store food. Often parents relied on other family members to bring food in for them or to sit with their child while they went to eat. Parents are not usually allowed to sleep in the ICU or the high dependency unit. Susan stayed in a charity run house next to the hospital when her child was on the ICU.
Parents were very grateful for the emotional and practical support that staff on the ward gave them. They too felt very well looked after. As Michelle said, “The staff were fab. They were amazing… they look after you as well.”


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