Mighty Blog

How to stay connected when you can’t be together

When a child is hospitalized, there may be a lot of reasons why family and friends can’t visit: Distance, work or school obligations. The responsibilities to other family members may also often make it challenging to visit the hospital.

Every year during flu season, Children’s Minnesota implements visitor restrictions to protect vulnerable patients, families, staff and visitors. These visiting restrictions have been enhanced due to COVID-19.

Unfortunately, sometimes this means siblings and friends aren’t able to visit a patient at Children’s Minnesota. However, in order to help families, friends, classmates, and more stay connected, Children’s Minnesota child life specialists have put together a list of helpful suggestions.

Sick child in hospital using iPad.

Staying connected through the COVID-19 outbreak

Technology

Social media can be a great way to stay connected, talk to friends and stay up-to-date on people’s quarantine activities.

Additionally, the Geek Squad in Minneapolis or St. Paul can help patients set up Skype or FaceTime to call grandma, check in with what’s happening at school, have supper together or wave at a new baby sister!

Print off photos at the Geek Squad and decorate the hospital room with vacation pictures, family get-togethers and silly jokes from siblings.

Resources on the Children’s Minnesota’s website

To help siblings and classmates understand what is happening at the hospital check out the section on Preparing for Surgery. There is a printable coloring book on a PDF file as well as some photo album stories connected to Google Drive to create a story about the hospital. This is a great project to work on in the hospital that can be instantly shared with friends and family.

Capturing sound

Recording a family member reading a book, telling a story or singing songs can be a very personal way to stay connected. Recording household sounds and making a game of guessing what they are is fun activity for siblings to do for each other.

Our music therapy team can help with this to enhance the sound quality and put it on a CD to listen to in a patient’s room and create a keepsake.

Old school

It’s pretty common for kids to like mail. The Family Resource Center has some fun cards patients can use to send to their friends and neighbors at home.

Having siblings and classmates send pictures and drawings to decorate a patient’s room is a cheerful, positive addition that is a physical reminder of everyone’s support.

Writing about the events of the day in a journal and sending it back and forth between the hospital and home can help everyone share their experiences. A shared notebook can be a fun way to start a story and add to it each time it is passed from home to the hospital and back.

Get creative

A teenage patient told one of our child life specialists a story about a classmate of hers who dropped off a Slushie every day of her hospitalization. This was a very specific Slushie made by the local convenience store that was a hang-out for their high school. He would leave it at the Welcome Center to be delivered to her, knowing she did not want or could not have visitors, but would want the Slushie.

You know your family and friends best. You know their talents and skills and together you will add your own creative ideas for staying connected.

Alexandra Rothstein