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Seeing your child seriously ill in hospital is a very distressing experience for any parent. Most of you will not have heard of Encephalitis before. Trying to communicate with the hospital doctors and nurses can sometimes seem difficult. Lack of information or too much specialised information can also be very daunting. You may not understand medical terminology.
Practical issues such as lack of sleep, time to eat, no appetite and losing touch with family and friends can all add to the huge impact this illness has. You may at times feel helpless, isolated and confused.
Here is a list of things which may help:
• Create a quiet and familiar environment around your child. Hospital is a busy and noisy place; you don’t want to add to it with having many visitors, TV, telephone conversations or other stimuli. Your child will probably benefit from having lots of rest.
• Try and talk to your child and explain what has happened if possible. They may have no recollection of why they are in hospital or for how long they have been there. They may feel upset and scared. Reassure your child that you are there for them and being in hospital is not their fault.
• Get to know the key staff involved in your child’s care.
• Communicate with health care staff: take any opportunity to ask questions; write down what you want to ask . Some hospitals provide Family Therapy which may help you deal with the stress and emotions at this difficult time. Ask a member of Staff about it.
• Acknowledge your emotions and be aware that other family members may deal with this situation differently than you.
• Contact The Encephalitis Society. You can talk with an experienced professional by phone or email. They may have a Regional Representative in your area who may be able to provide local support and information.
• Get your family and friends to do some research and bring in some information about the illness and its consequences.
• Involve your friends and family in doing some chores for you: ask them to bring some food, do some washing, shopping, look after your other children. They probably want to help but don’t know how.
The Encephalitis Society is the operating name of the Encephalitis Support Group which is a registered Charity and Company Limited by Guarantee.
Registered in England and Wales No. 4189027. Registered Office as above. Registered Charity No. 1087843.