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Tips for Making Medical Appointments Easier for Foster Children

Tips for Making Medical Appointments Easier for Foster Children

Making medical appointments can be stressful for any child, but especially so for foster children who may have experienced trauma or instability. As a foster carer, you can take steps to help make these appointments go smoothly for the child in your care. Here are some tips for making medical appointments easier for foster children.

Prepare the Child in Advance

When you decide on becoming a foster carer, part of your responsibility will be taking them to doctors, dentists, and hospital appointments. Let the child know about the upcoming appointment and explain what will happen. Go over who will be there – the doctor, nurse, etc. – and what they will do. For example, “The doctor will listen to your heart and check your ears.” Give reassurance that you will be there the entire time. Ask if they have any questions or concerns. Preparing children ahead of time helps reduce fear and anxiety.

Bring Comfort Items

Children Comfort Items
Photo by Anna Shvets:

Let the child bring any comfort items that make them feel safe and secure, such as a special stuffed animal or blanket. Having a familiar object can help calm children during stressful situations.

Explain Confidentiality

Assure the child that anything discussed with the doctor is confidential. Let them know that the doctor wants to help them stay healthy and will keep their information private. This helps build trust with the medical providers. Foster children need to know their personal health information is protected.

Discuss Preferences

Some exams or procedures may make a child uncomfortable. Discuss any preferences ahead of time. For example, ask if they would prefer a male or female doctor. See if they are nervous about vaccinations or blood draws. Knowing this allows you to request accommodations or prepare the child mentally. Advocating for the child’s needs shows your support.

Bring Entertainment

Photo by cottonbro studio:

Boredom can heighten anxiety in waiting rooms. Come prepared with books, colouring books, and puzzles to keep the child occupied before the appointment. Electronics like tablets may also help pass the time. Having distractions prevents the child from focusing too much on the upcoming exam.

Stay Positive

Even if the child seems anxious, try to remain upbeat and calm yourself. Reassure them there is no need to worry. If they need an injection or procedure that may hurt, emphasise that it will be over quickly. Do not apologise or say it will hurt, as this can further stress the child. Your positive attitude sets the tone.

Be an Advocate

As a foster carer, you know the child best. Speak up if the doctor recommends a test or medication you feel is unnecessary or inappropriate. Politely ask questions if any instructions are unclear. Make sure the child’s needs and comfort are prioritised. Advocating for the child shows you have their back.

Follow Up Afterwards

Once the appointment is over, offer praise to the child for getting through it. Ask if they have any other questions or concerns. Be sure to comply with any instructions from the doctor, such as prescriptions or follow-up visits. Following through demonstrates reliability.

Medical appointments can be difficult for foster children, but foster carers can take proactive steps to ease the process. By supporting foster children through appointments, you help gain their trust while also getting them the care they need. With compassion and preparation, foster carers have the power to transform what could be a stressful experience into a reassuring one.

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