Child-centred-care is fundamental to providing appropriate care in paediatric hospitals, but is the care actually child-centred? Researcher Dr Mandie Foster and colleagues set out to explore this question by asking children themselves.

Dr Mandie Foster

Dr Mandie Foster

The research, which is first of its kind and was conducted across children’s hospitals in Perth and in New Zealand, uses a self-reporting 16-item questionnaire, from which an assessment tool has been developed so children can communicate about the care they receive and their experience as a patient. In the past, patient surveys were answered by parents and children may have felt uncomfortable asking staff themselves.

Hospitals can be intimidating places for children and often the service provided to them is based upon what the clinicians deem appropriate, but this does not always relate to what the child needs to give them security.

In situations such as this, the tool can provide better patient outcomes, according to Mandie.

“The tool empowers children and gives them a voice both as consumers and recipients of health care. A lot of children’s needs are circumvented by parents and staff acting as proxies because they want to protect the child leaving their perspectives unheard.”

“Up until now there hasn’t been a tool available that children can score their psycho-social-physical needs and a way to determine if those needs are actually met.”

The researchers identified children’s most important needs:

  • “To know I am safe and will be looked after.”
  • “To get enough sleep at night.”
  • “That staff listen to me.”
  • “To have places my parents can go for food and drinks.”
  • “To have my mum, dad or family help care for me.”

Ultimately, the tool isn’t about children guiding clinicians to the care they receive, rather how the care is delivered and how the child perceives their experience.

“What we as providers of health care perceive as important may be very different to what children perceive, and if we are not asking questions, then we are doing an injustice to children and we don’t really know if we are meeting their needs.”

“From a child’s perspective, feeling safe is not lots of treats and presents. They just wanted time with their family present to get better.”

ED Australian College of Children and Young People’s Nurses is holding a Master Class for the International Network for Child and Family Centred Care at the Perth Children’s Hospital, October 24, 2.30pm-5.30pm.

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