COMMUNITY

Community

When children are initially diagnosed with an illness, or have a sudden hospitalization, the community often comes together to try to help the family. Unfortunately, this initial response may trail off after a little while, leaving the family with less support during a lengthy treatment course.

Community

When children are initially diagnosed with an illness, or have a sudden hospitalization, the community often comes together to try to help the family. Unfortunately, this initial response may trail off after a little while, leaving the family with less support during a lengthy treatment course.

Children and families facing serious illness need a strong support team for the long haul. Friends, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and other community members who find ways to be helpful as the family’s needs evolve are a crucial part of that team.

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Here are some ways to help.

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  1. Don’t assume what will be helpful. Ask and observe to see what the family needs now.
  2. Remember that needs may change over time.
  3. The best gift a friend/family member can give is TIME.
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    Sit with their child in the hospital so the caregiver can take a break.
    If the family has other children, offer to take them on a play date.
    If a family has pets, offer to assist with them.

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  4. When home, families appreciate a home cooked meal, house cleaning or someone to help weed the garden.
  5. Appointments and hospitalizations make it hard to predict when families are home. Home cooked meals may be good for some but not all families.
  6. If you are creating a homemade meal for a family, ask what the family has been eating lately and if there are any dietary restrictions. “Not baked ziti again!”
  7. Call or text before visiting to make sure the family is up to having visitors or if there is anything scheduled during that time.
  8. Stop by for coffee, lunch, etc. and allow the caregiver to vent. Please remember to call or text before stopping by.
  9. It is good to ask what is needed, but don’t expect caregivers to always know what to say when you ask “what can I do?”
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What can I do to provide practical help?

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  1. Pack parents or other caregivers a survival guide if they have to stay overnight at the hospital.  Think about things to keep them busy or fun snacks.
  2. Get the family a care package or gift certificate for a local restaurant.
  3. Remember the siblings, send them cards or notes to show them that you are thinking of them.

Children and families facing serious illness need a strong support team for the long haul. Friends, extended family, neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and other community members who find ways to be helpful as the family’s needs evolve are a crucial part of that team.

a

Here are some ways to help.

a
  1. Don’t assume what will be helpful. Ask and observe to see what the family needs now.
  2. Remember that needs may change over time.
  3. The best gift a friend/family member can give is TIME.
    a

    Sit with their child in the hospital so the caregiver can take a break.
    If the family has other children, offer to take them on a play date.
    If a family has pets, offer to assist with them.

    a
  4. When home, families appreciate a home cooked meal, house cleaning or someone to help weed the garden.
  5. Appointments and hospitalizations make it hard to predict when families are home. Home cooked meals may be good for some but not all families.
  6. If you are creating a homemade meal for a family, ask what the family has been eating lately and if there are any dietary restrictions. “Not baked ziti again!”
  7. Call or text before visiting to make sure the family is up to having visitors or if there is anything scheduled during that time.
  8. Stop by for coffee, lunch, etc. and allow the caregiver to vent. Please remember to call or text before stopping by.
  9. It is good to ask what is needed, but don’t expect caregivers to always know what to say when you ask “what can I do?”
a

What can I do to provide practical help?

a
  1. Pack parents or other caregivers a survival guide if they have to stay overnight at the hospital. Think about things to keep them busy or fun snacks.
  2. Get the family a care package or gift certificate for a local restaurant.
  3. Remember the siblings, send them cards or notes to show them that you are thinking of them.
Helping while a child is at the hospital
  1. Think about the siblings and parents when bringing gifts to the hospital. Check with the parent whether their child can have stuffed animals, prior to bringing them to the hospital.
  2. Create a toy basket for the child and a small gift for the parent as well such as nail polish, slippers or playing cards.
  3. “My family appreciated when people brought fruit, homemade cookies, craft project for my child or a gift card when my child was in the hospital.”
  4. Gift cards to the grocery store or restaurants are always appreciated.
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    Tip: Think of restaurants that are close to the hospital too so families can order food when they have to stay overnight. When your child is in the hospital, it’s natural to want to spend as much time with them as possible. It’s also natural to feel guilty for not being at home with your other children. It’s hard to be in two places at one time. During these times, try to let friend and family members help, rather than trying to do everything yourself.

Understanding the emotional impact for families
  1. Understand that your friend is forever changed, be there for them.
  2. Your friend may be short fused or impatient, it is because they are overwhelmed and scared. Don’t let that push you away.
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Some things to avoid:

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  1. Please refrain from sending articles on holistic medical cures found on Facebook or question treatment decisions.
  2. Try to refrain from saying phrases like:
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    “Everything happens for a reason.”
    “I don’t know how you do it.”
    “God only gives you what you can handle.”
    “All part of God’s plan.”

How do I talk with the child or family?
  1. Invite the child, parents, and siblings to tell you how things are going. Understand if they don’t want to talk. If they do want to talk, just listen.
  2. Some people don’t know what to say and so they do not reach out at all. Tell them you don’t know what to say but are ready to listen and help.
  3. Send the caregiver a text or note to show them that you are there for them, should they want to talk.
  4. When talking with the caregiver, be sure to talk about things other than their child’s illness or injury.
  5. Remember the “silk ring theory” – COMFORT IN, DUMP OUT.
    Read more here: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/07/opinion/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407

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