Chapter 2: Preparing children to enter the ICU

The meaning of the ICU admission

The meaning of the ICU admission

 Begin by getting a sense of what the child understands of the situation. Their answers will tell you how comfortable they are talking about it, what they have heard and interpreted, and what they are focusing on.

 Listen carefully to the words they choose; if they use any medical words or euphemisms, ask what those words mean to them.

 Build on and clarify their responses. Try to use clear, simple and concrete language to explain any concepts that they don’t fully understand.

Conversation Prompts

“What do you know about this hospital and/or the Intensive Care Unit”?

“What can you tell me about why [patient] is here”?

“What does ‘life support’ mean”?

“You said, ‘passing away’; what does that mean”?

“Sometimes when people have trouble breathing, we put a tube in their throat to help them”.

Clinician Tip