Long stays at Royal Children’s Hospital – how to stay strong

Tips from Very Special Kids parents who have been there.

Bring a sense of home to hospital

  • Take your child’s favourite pillow, blanket and snuggle toy. Sometimes the smell of home can be very comforting in a strange and sterile hospital bed.
  • Take a picture of family members or pets in with you.

What to pack

  • Have overnight bags packed ready on standby for the often unexpected rush to ED.
  • Hospital is freezing so if you can, take your own doona, pillow and plenty of warm socks.


  • Don’t put your frozen food in the patients freezer….it will be thrown out.
  • If you have any dietary requirements you need to cater for yourself.
  • Take prepared food in with you.

Washing Clothes (who knew?)

  • Washing powder and fabric softener is always a must.
  • Get your access card to the 2nd level laundry as soon as you get there and tell them you will hang on to it till you leave.


  • Let the charge nurse know that your child is a VSK kid and ask for the volunteer on that day to come and meet you and your child so you can take a break.
  • Don’t be ashamed to take advantage of volunteers.
  • Organise a team of people to help with household chores back home. They also have volunteers that bring dogs around so keep an eye out for them.

For you

  • Take something that YOU enjoy to pass the quiet times away….a book, craft, etc.
  • Meet friends in the café rather than on the ward.


  • Don’t forget to use your RCH concession for the parking, as it limits your fee to $10 a day.


  • The RCH will provide all continence products except for baby wipes.

Talking to doctors

  • Take a note book so there are no issues or misunderstandings. You do get very sleep deprived and can forget little things that can be important.
  • Don’t be afraid to question the doctors.

Fun stuff

  • Get your child out of their room as often as possible and there are play rooms at the entry to each ward.
  • The teachers at the RCH will liaise with your child’s own teachers to support the continued learning in his or her own classroom.
  • Even though each room has its own TV, take an iPad for the kids.
  • Write both yours and your husband/partner’s name on the whiteboard with your mobile numbers, siblings names and pets, their like and dislikes as this helps new nursing staff get to know you all.

Other helpful stuff

  • Use Social Workers, Play Therapists and anyone else that can make life easier for you.
  • If you are eligible, use support organisations like Ronald McDonald House, Brainwave and TLC for Kids. They are amazing sources of extra support during long stays. They can help with out of hospital accommodation for the other parent and siblings. Brainwave also do amazing “emergency care packs” for children whose parent may have not had time to pack the essentials for a hospital stay.