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Out of the mouth of babes: kids say what’s important to them in hospital

"To know I’m safe and will be looked after."

This is one of the most important needs of children in hospital, according to new Australian research.

The study team, from Edith Cowan University, developed a questionnaire to get a sense of the needs of sick kids in paediatric settings.

They assessed 193 school-aged children and found that other important needs included getting enough sleep at night and having staff listen to them.

Other needs were about the role of parents, such as:

"To have places my parents can go to for food and drinks."

"To have my mum, dad or family help care for me."

Lead researcher Dr Mandie Foster, a nursing lecturer and paediatric nurse, said literature on children’s needs and experiences in healthcare settings have been largely limited to surveys completed by adults answering for them.

“To our knowledge, no instrument has been available to assess the perception of the needs of school-aged children during a hospital stay," she added.

“As adults, we often make assumptions about children’s needs and wants, but hospitals can be a scary and unfamiliar environment for many children and we shouldn’t assume we know how they are feeling.

“Being listened to and understood can give children an added sense of confidence about the situation they find themselves in.”

She said the creation of the Needs of Children Questionnaire is part of an international movement to place children as central to care delivery.

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