How to Keep Siblings Involved
Siblings can feel more involved with the care of their hospitalized brother or sister by participating in activities at home or when visiting the hospital.
Activities to do at home
- Talk on the phone, video chat, or play games together on the Internet.
- E-mail, text message, journal back and forth, or send mail to each other.
- Help pack favorite toys, books, stuffed animals, pajamas, DVDs, music or games to bring to the hospital.
- Make a picture or greeting card to decorate the Hospital room. Or send an e-card.
- Record messages to each other. Singing, reading stories, telling jokes, or sharing school information on tape are some additional ideas to share.
- Choose photos from home to be hung in the patient’s Hospital room. The patient may enjoy pictures of themselves in the past, of family, friends and pets to keep them involved in what’s going on at home and to share with Hospital staff and friends.
- Create a CarePage. It is a free, private, personalized web page that helps you keep friends and family up to date.
- Make a sign with information about the brother or sister who is hospitalized. Information can include:
- Favorite toys, books, songs, TV shows, movies or games
- Dislikes such as specific foods or getting up in the morning
- Special words, such as "binky" for pacifier, that the patient uses to identify certain items
Activities to do in the hospital
- Play games or work on art projects with the patient if he or she is feeling up to it.
- Read a book, tell a story or talk about their day.
- Go with the patient to the playroom on the unit. If the patient is unable to go to the playroom, the sibling can choose an activity to bring back and share at the bedside.
- Decorate the Hospital room so it seems more comfortable and relaxed.
Things to keep in mind about siblings visiting the Hospital
It's important that siblings be allowed to visit whenever possible. Prepare siblings for what they will see and hear when they arrive, using honest, age-appropriate words. Describe how their brother or sister looks or acts if it is different from normal. If the brother or sister is very ill, injured, and/or not feeling well, suggest siblings pack a bag of things to do quietly while they are at the hospital.
For more information about how to prepare siblings to visit the Hospital, contact the Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy department at 215-590-2001.