Hospital life : Moving home when you have a sick child


Moving house can sometimes be an inevitable activity for a family. It is a difficult decision to take and carry out. It is hard for a family with a sick child because not only does the house “move”but even the services that support their family may have to “move” as well. The structures that have become part and parcel of the family’s coping mechanism may have to change.

When there is severe illness in the home, support although readily available may be inaccessible to the family for reasons such as lack of information, time or a simple dis-interest. Over time as the family become even more pressured, they begin to become more aware of support structures and gradually access them. Accessing support requires information, time, patience and adjustment. It is hard to accept the interference of other parties in the home however well intended. Overtime, families learn that their new routine will involve accepting this well meaning “support”. The family adapts to the support they receive to the point of comfort until there exists a smooth flow of seamless support from the community.

When house moves occur, some of these structures which by the way are at times tailored to suit the families peculiar needs become altered, irreplaceable or totally lost. The prospect of this change can discourage a family from taking the next step to accessing more adequate accommodation. Some families are lucky enough to find suitable housing within the same locality. For others who have to move far away, the case is totally different and adds more stress to the family setup.

Changing energy suppliers and other familiar infrastructure seemed quite normal but can be very disruptive to a family with a sick child. Children may need to change schools. For siblings or children in the home this can be very traumatic. The school setting is more than a place of learning to these kids. It is a hub of stability, a safe haven. The social ties and friendships formed at school impress greatly on them emotionally and psychologically affecting their overall well-being. These ties protect their otherwise fragile and delicate emotions from the disruptions that having a sick sibling can bring to the home. School becomes the one “constant”amidst the dynamism that sums up their life.

For parents who live in the same community but have moved far from the school, the commute may be too strenuous. Support exists within the community to help families through this adjustment process. The children and family practice, Contact a family, Carers UK and even the Social services can advise on issues related to home-to-school transport and volunteer school-run groups.

Another aspect of moving home may involve changing the General Practice or GP surgery. The GP surgery that the family is used to can be a structure that evolves into a hub of information for the family. Many GP surgeries in addition to providing primary health care to all families act as sign-posters to other services within the locality that can support families with sick children. GPs kick-start many support and diagnostic processes by making simple referrals which help families access further help. Moving houses may mean changing surgeries.

It is fine and totally normal to feel lost at the prospect of changing surgeries. However since 2015, all GP practices in England have been free to register patients outside their catchment area. Although this is totally at their discretion, it can be worth discussing your family situation with the surgery especially if you feel your child or loved one’s condition is too delicate for a new surgery to adapt to. Things are easier when discussed with the right people.

So while it may be a stressful time for you, we hope that you do not feel alone at this time.

Thank you for reading

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