Sorting out practicalities for hospital stays

A stay in hospital can be stressful, and it’ll put a strain on life’s routine. But get clued up on what to expect to help keep disruption to a minimum for your family.

What’s it like staying on a ward?

Seeing the ward for the first time can be tough. But you’ll be surrounded by professionals who will be by your side 24/7. And most children’s wards have staff and facilities to help keep your child occupied. There will also be the chance to meet other parents in a similar situation. See this as a real support.

Your child will usually only stay on the ward if  they need inpatient treatment, procedures/investigations or supportive care. Some of their treatment may be able to take place in a hospital closer to home. This is called ‘shared care’. Treatment can also be continued at home, at an outpatient clinic or during short stays at hospital. So your time spent staying on the ward may be shorter than you think.

What are the facilities like?

Most hospitals provide information about their wards, facilities and the local area. It’ll be worth taking a look at their website to find an online ‘tour’ so you and your child will know what to expect.

What will it cost me?


You may need to travel miles for your child’s treatment. This could mean a splurge on petrol, parking charges, or even a new or more reliable car. If you’re on low income you could claim back your costs. Check out the extra support available which could help you spend less on travel.


Depending on your child’s treatment plan and arrangements, you may need alternative accommodation. Find out  if there’s any free accommodation near the hospital you could stay at. Young Lives vs Cancer has Homes from Home near some hospitals, and there are Ronald MacDonald houses at others.


Often families divide themselves between caring for the child in hospital and the siblings at home. This can be very stressful, particularly if you are a single parent/carer. Try and ease the load where possible – have you got family or friends who can help out?

If you’re employed you have the right to unpaid time off to deal with emergencies involving your child. This includes childcare. But it’ll be worth having someone who can help you out at short notice too.

There may also be times when you need to rely on paid childcare. Find out more about childcare costs and tax credits.