Crawford Assistant House Manager shares advice on how to cope when your child’s in hospital

Emily spends her days offering comfort and advice to families at Crawford House. Having been in a similar situation herself with her son, here she shares her advice

The amazing and dedicated front-line workers in our ‘Homes from Home’ spend their days supporting families with a seriously ill child in hospital. They are there with a friendly ear to listen, a cup of tea and a box of tissues. Some of our staff know all too well just what these families are facing.

Eight years ago, Crawford Assistant House Manager, Emily Elliott, walked through the doors of our ‘Home from Home’ with her partner after giving birth to her son, Daniel, at just 25 weeks. Emily stayed with us for four months while tiny Daniel fought hundreds of battles to get home. She has been working at the very ‘Home from Home’ she was supported at since 2016 and is a huge support to all the mums and dads staying at Crawford House. She shares her own, personal experience every single day, giving comfort and advise to those that need it.

As we celebrate 25 years of Crawford House – supporting families with children at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) – we asked Emily what advice she has for families to help cope with being in hospital.

Be prepared for a rollercoaster

When your child’s in hospital, you have lots of up and down days. It can get so disheartening, especially after a good day but you have to just ride it out. The whole journey ahead of you will be like this. When I speak to families staying in Crawford House, especially those that have premature babies, I try and give them my take on things. I was there with a 25 weeker and know a lot of the medical terms now, which I didn’t at the time, so try and help by breaking things down and explain in my own words.

Talk to others

To talk about what you’re going through with other families with children in hospital really goes such a long way to help you cope with all the emotions you’re feeling and thoughts going through your head. It can be really overwhelming dealing with everything. If you’re staying in one of our ‘Homes from Home’ remember the staff are here to help you. We are always happy to talk to you, cry with you and listen. Just knock on the office door or stop us in the hallway.

Speak up

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is a lot going on, a lot of things happening and a lot of terms that you will never have heard of before. This is your child and you are entitled to know everything. You know your baby better than everyone else, so be upfront and ask all the questions – the doctors and nurses are used to it. If you sit back and don’t ask it can make you feel worse and more anxious.

Look after yourself

Looking after yourself when your child is in hospital is so important. When Daniel and I were at Crawford House we’d often take time out to share a takeaway with other families or go to the supermarket together. If you can look after yourself in this way, you will have the energy to get through some of the most exhausting days of your life

Have some time alone with your child

Daniel and I were in Crawford House for four months and were spending 24 hours a day together. Usually after having your baby, most parents get to spend alone time and bond. There were lots of mornings when I used to get up before big Daniel and make my way over to little Daniel’s bedside. It was just us, me and my baby. You need that alone time.

Read about Emily’s story here.

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