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Going into hospital

hospital; surgery; illness; sick; theatre; medication; doctors; nurses; visitors; operation; anaesthetic ;


Why kids go into hospital

broken legSometimes kids get sick.

They can be a bit sick, stay home for a few days and then they are better.

Sometimes kids may need to go into hospital to be made well again.

Maybe they have had an accident.
in a wheel chair

broken armMaybe some bit of their body isn’t working properly.

Maybe they have a disease.

Maybe they need surgery (an operation) to make them well again.

Sometimes kids go into hospital for a few hours, sometimes for a whole day or sometimes they may be in hospital for days or weeks.

It depends on what is wrong with them.

What is hospital like?

in a hospital bedHospitals used to be a bit scary for kids, but nowadays hospitals, particularly children's hospitals, are much more friendly places

  • Hospitals always smell different to home because they have to be really careful about keeping everything very clean and they use a lot of disinfectant (stuff that kills bad germs).
  • They look different to home too. You may find that you don't have a room of your own but get to share with other kids.
  • They often have bright coloured walls and pictures, toys, books and games and even TV.
  • They have special furniture and lots of gadgets that you won't have at home.
  • The nurses and doctors know that you will find lots of different things, and it's okay to ask questions so that you feel more comfortable with your surroundings.
  • It's also okay to ask questions about your illness and what is going to happen. Doctors and nurses know that you may be feeling scared or nervous.
    feeling unsure

Staying in the hospital

Most children who go to hospital are only there for a few hours or a day.
in hospitalIf you are going for the day you can take a favourite toy or book with you so that you have something to do if you are waiting.

Mum, dad, or whoever looks after you will be able to stay with you at the hospital. They may even be able to come with you into the operating theatre if you are going to have an operation, so that you know they are there.

They will be ready to take you home again when the doctors say you can go home.

in hospitalIf you are going to be in hospital for a few days then you may be able to have your own pyjamas or nightie, toys, books and games, day clothes (you may not have to stay in bed all the time so you will usually be able to wear your clothes in the daytime). You may be able to watch TV, but you can't take your own TV in there. 

It would be best to ask the nurse if it's ok to use your phone or tablet while you are in the hospital. In some parts of the hospital they will want you to turn them off.

You will eat all your meals in the hospital and you can choose what you would like from a menu.

If mum or dad are able to stay with you during the day or even at night then the hospital will let them stay.

Your friends and family can come to visit you too. It's good if they don't all come at once or it could get too noisy for you and the other sick kids in the hospital. After all, you are there to get better!

It's really important that people who are sick do not come and see you, as their germs could make you or the other children in the hospital more sick than you were before.

If mum or dad can't stay with you, don't worry - the nurses will look after you and there are lots of people around for you to talk to if you are feeling scared or lonely. You can ask questions if you're not sure about something.

Having surgery

in hospitalHaving an operation (op-er-ay-shun) or procedure (pro-seed-yer).

If you are going into hospital for an operation or procedure, you may have an anaesthetic (say: an-ass-thet-ik).

Anaesthetics are to help you feel comfortable during an operation or procedure.  

There are two main kinds.

  1. Local anaesthetic - this will take the feeling out of the part of the body that is being worked on.
  2. General anaesthetic - this will make you go to sleep for a while so that your body will keep still and you will be comfortable.

Anaesthetics are given by a special doctor called an anaesthetist (an-ee-sthe-tist). This doctor will talk to you about what is going to happen and he or she will be looking after you during the operation. He or she will ask that you don't eat or drink for several hours before you go to hospital. This is called 'fasting'. Having food in your tummy can make you throw up during the operation and make you feel sick when you wake up again.

Lots of people will be looking after you in the operating theatre.

All of the doctors and nurses in there will work together to make you well again.

What to do in hospital

Once you are feeling better you will be able to watch TV or play with toys, books and games that you were allowed to bring with you, or ones that belong to the hospital.
getting better

Many children's wards will have someone who is a Play Coordinator. That means that she will have all sorts of things for you to do and you will be able to join in activities with other kids too when you are feeling better.

If you are going to be in hospital for more than a few days, you may ask your teacher to send you some work so that you don’t miss out on school.

Dr Kate says:

Dr KateWhether you have been in hospital for a few hours, a few days or a long time, you will be feeling happy to be going home to your own house and your own room. If you have had anaesthetic, don't be surprised to find that you feel pretty tired by the time you get home. Give yourself a chance to rest and let your body recover.

You may feel that you want to talk about what happened , catch up on family news, see your friends, play outside and heaps of other stuff - but take it easy for a while. Usually your doctor will tell you that you need to stay home for a couple of days or more before you go back to school.

A day trip to hospital

Going into hospital
Think it's really scary
Mum and dad explained it
So did Doctor Mary.

Early in the morning
Going in the car.
Walk into the hallway,
Mum smiles, "Here we are."

Lying on a high bed
Holding hands with mum
Waiting for the doctor,
Wish that she would come.

Doctor comes to tell me
What it is she'll do
Have a sip of something
Feeling sleepy too.

"Can you count to ten?"
"Course I can, can you?"
Feel a little prick
And start to count , "One, two.."

"Hello darling," Mum says
Smiling down at me.
"It's all over now
And we'll soon go home for tea."


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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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