June 6, 2022

How to make hospital waiting rooms and doctors’ offices more parent-friendly.

One thing is certain, however, in any pediatric waiting room whether it's in a hospital, surgery, or physician's waiting room, the parents' temperament dictates the mood of the room. Whether or not they are waiting with their children or waiting to see their children, it is of the utmost importance that parents feel comfortable and welcome in any waiting room.

By Katie Taylor, CCLS

The first place I had my first patient interaction as a child life student was during a practicum in a waiting room. I’ll never forget how much stress the family was under:

  • Their son was NPO (wasn’t allowed to have food the morning of the procedure)
  • The procedure was delayed
  • They had no idea what would happen during the procedure
  • The waiting room was crowded

Because it was my first patient interaction, I was incredibly quiet and observant of what was happening around me. Not only was I taking mental notes that I would later have to document in my student journal, but I was seeing the “big picture” of what waiting rooms are really like for families.

Typically waiting rooms are bland, generic colors with chairs and tables that can be wiped down for infection control reasons. These days, thanks to Covid-19, the chairs may be spaced out and the magazines that once graced the table to distract worried parents are bare.

One thing is certain, however, in any pediatric waiting room whether it’s in a hospital, surgery, or physician’s waiting room, the parents’ temperament dictates the mood of the room. Whether or not they are waiting with their children or waiting to see their children, it is of the utmost importance that parents feel comfortable and welcome in any waiting room.

So, while you may think this list is “obvious,” the truth is that the lack of these affordable, yet very necessary, items are of utmost importance to help parents feel as comfortable as possible.

The chargers should be plentiful.

I like the VIPATEY Wall Mount charger because you can customize your facility’s logo on it, it attaches to the wall, and has a multi-port function with 8 chargers that fit 99% of the most popular devices.

The chairs should be comfortable.

Parents can sit in these chairs for hours at a time, so making sure their seat is comfortable can make or break their experience. As Americans know, healthcare costs are so incredibly high, and the chairs they sit in while they wait for services are important. I like the CLATINA chair because of the armrest, lumbar support, and the ability to quickly wipe them down.

Sounds should be soothing.

Some of the hardest conversations people have to have are in doctors’ waiting rooms. For this reason, privacy is incredibly important. Placing white noise machines around a waiting room demonstrates the facility understands the family’s right to private conversations. I like the Dohm white noise machine because it’s wipeable, effective, and easy to use.

Caffeine should be available, for free.

Any parent will tell you that children are exhausting… and ill or injured children require a whole new level of parent involvement. Coffee and tea should not be a luxury, they should be readily available. I like this single-serve Kuerig K155 because its one-time use and easy-to-use functionality make it a great option for tired parents.

These items may not seem like much, but they can make a world of difference for families and are a bare minimum for waiting rooms. Other items that could offer support are:

If you’re looking for something more specific for kids, check out our other lists!

Support items for adult patients

Playroom Toys 0-3

Playroom Toys 3-5

Playroom Toys 6-12

Playroom Toys Teen

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