Principle 9: Protection from distressing sights, sounds, activities and experiences

Principle 9: Protection from distressing sights, sounds, activities and experiences

Children and young people should be protected from physical and emotional pain, trauma and distress.

Introduction

The following is one of a group of principles which recognise the particular needs of children and young people receiving health and disability support services. The principles describe what should be provided when your child or young person receives those services. They are based on expert opinion and a considerable body of literature in New Zealand and overseas and they have been developed after wide consultation. See all the principles listed in Principles: what health and disability services should provide for your child or young person.

Protection from distressing sights, sounds, activities and experiences

Principle: Children and young people should be protected from physical and emotional pain, trauma and distress.

Health care and disability support providers should take all steps to minimise physical and emotional pain, trauma and distress.

Children and young people are exposed to many unfamiliar and distressing sights and sounds when they are in health and disability settings. Coping with these and with the experience of being sick or disabled is very stressful for them. (See Helping your child manage their treatment and Children's painful procedures and operations - how can parents help? and Play, recreation and education).

You can expect that health providers will make every effort to minimise these traumas and protect your child or young person from them as far as possible. Specifically, you can expect that:

  • all invasive procedures will be accompanied by adequate pain management - sometimes this might be an anaesthetic (see Pain)
  • there will be appropriate explanations of procedures and psychological preparation and support from nursing and medical staff; many hospitals have play specialists who should be involved in preparing your child for procedures (see Children and young people need information and Families need to be informed about their child or young person's health care)
  • your child will be protected from distressing sights, sounds, activities and experiences, including inappropriate television and radio
  • appointments are appropriately arranged and waiting rooms are appropriate for your child
  • your child is not subjected to unnecessary repeat investigations and treatments (such as multiple attempts to insert an intravenous drip, poorly co-ordinated blood tests)
  • painful and invasive treatments are carried out in the treatment room
  • if your child is in hospital, their bed is “safe”; that is, free from painful treatments
  • there is protection from noisy disturbed patients in hospital

You may ask:

  • is clinical equipment hidden from sight?
  • is my child encouraged to have familiar and favourite items from home?
  • is our family encouraged and supported to be with our child?
  • are procedures arranged for when a family member can be with our child or young person?
  • are procedures and tests co-ordinated appropriately?
  • if your child or young person is in hospital or other residential health care facility, do they have accommodation separate from adults?
  • if your child is in hospital, is there a play room available for them to use?

Acknowledgements

See Acknowledgements listed at Principles: what health and disability services should provide for your child or young person.

This page last reviewed 25 March 2015.
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