By Katie Taylor, CCLS
Families who are facing stressful and anxiety-provoking scenarios on the healthcare setting tend to be living moment-to-moment and the idea of reaching out to an organization, now matter how wonderful it may be, seems daunting and unrealistic at the time.
So when we know there are resources available for families, what are the best ones and when is the right time to share them?
Start with what is already in their atmosphere. Do they have friends or family members who have gone through similar situations? When I’m working with families I always ask questions that give me an idea about what their understanding is of this specific experience and go from there. Do they know someone who also had a NICU baby? Have they ever met anyone with cancer before? Because these resources already exist in their world, it is more likely that they would feel comfortable using the resources rather than starting with something brand new.
Find out where they already hang out. A lot of parents already have a community or group that they are apart of. Whether its a local moms Facebook group or a religious community, they have people that they feel comfortable with. Consider prompting the family to explore groups they’ve already bought into.
Podcasts are a great way to feel connection without the pressure of having to give a lot. When you’re stressed and overwhelmed, the last thing you want to do is add another thing to your plate. Child Life On Call has over 100 stories from parents who have children with medical needs. Even if the story isn’t specific to their diagnosis, the person sharing the story may say something that resonates with them.
Consider using digital tools instead of paper. While some people may prefer paper, the majority of us spend more time on a screen than with a pen. Encourage the parent to open up their phone and type in the organization or resource you’re recommending. Tell them that’s all they have to do and now it’s in their browser history. Come back to it when they’re ready (or when they’re aimlessly researching on google which is understandable and very common). Digital resources for many different illnesses, procedures and hospital-related experiences available through the Child Life On Call app.
Lastly, if there is a family truly struggling and in crisis, paper and digital resources may have to wait. Instead of giving it directly to the parent, ask to reach out to a close friend or family member and give them the information. They know the family way better than a hospital caregiver ever could.