Friday, February 15, 2013

Child health care needs to be a family matter - JCU/THHS joint initiative

Prof. Linda Shields
Parents of sick or injured children are being encouraged to be more involved in the way their kids are looked after when they have been admitted into health care.

The Association for the Wellbeing of Children in Health care (AWCH) for North Queensland is a joint initiative between James Cook University and The Townsville Hospital and Health Service.

JCU Professor of Nursing Linda Shields said parents were usually involved when their child needed health care.  "When a child is admitted to hospital, the parents come too, because a child needs its parents when something traumatic is happening to them, or they are sick. So the care is given to the whole family, not just the sick child,” she said.  “Consequently, parents are very much a part of the way their kids are cared for in any health service.”

Professor Shields said the AWCH was a parent-led organisation that lobbied for children's and parents’ best interests.  “The care in the children's ward at The Townsville Hospital is terrific, but we need parents to be actively involved in helping us to keep it that way,” she said.  “Parents' and children's voices are really important to us in the hospital and also to the people who make decisions about how the health service is run. We are encouraging parents to partner with health care providers, Boards and Government in managing their children’s health to be advocates for good practice and positive change.  Consumer engagement is an important part of the way forward for Queensland health services and parents will be asked to play a pivotal role in helping shape the design and delivery of those services.” 

Townsville Hospital Neonatal, Children and Youth Services nursing director Katrina Roberts said The Townsville Hospital was fully supportive of the initiative.  “The Charter on the Rights of Children and Young People in Healthcare Services in Australia provides the foundation for the provision of care at The Townsville Hospital for children and is supported by AWCH,” Ms Roberts said.  “We recognise that families are fundamental in children's health and well being, and to the child’s care while in hospital.”

JCU supports this initiative through the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition’s Tropical Health Research Unit.

JCU Media contact: Caroline Kaurila (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175

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