By: Mary Ware for LearnWell
During the course of a hospital admission, or admission to a residential treatment facility, parents and caregivers are often inundated with information, forms, and follow-up tasks necessary to the care and treatment of their child. Just as it is essential to provide clear and thorough explanation on the medical side of treatment, families will often question, and therefore need to be provided with, details regarding the academic services available to their child during this time.
Here are three ways to support families of student-patients and help them navigate the waters of academic services and credit while admitted to a facility.
1.Provide a clear overview of what the academic services offered at the facility are, and the process to ensure their child receives these services.
Having a child miss school in order to receive treatment can be a nerve-wracking situation for family members. In addition to concern over their child’s health, they may also be worried about the amount of classes missed, fear that the student will fall behind, or that they will not maintain academic progress or level due to absence. It is important to clearly explain the type of academic services offered at the facility—as well as the structure and qualifications of the teaching staff—as every facility manages and runs programs differently.
It is equally important to discuss programming with parents who may not initially be as interested in tutoring or classes during treatment, in order to demonstrate why it is an essential piece for treatment, student success after release, and for normalization. A simple handout detailing the program and steps, or a dedicated team member to review and answer school related questions will help make the process seamless for new patients.
2. Reduce parental burden by coordinating credit and schoolwork directly.
The hospital admission of a child can be very stress-inducing for family members, who are left to juggle multiple roles and responsibilities. By working directly with a student-patient’s school district, hospital teachers can request and coordinate school work efficiently and effectively. It is important to describe the benefits of this process to the parents or guardians, including being able to communicate with the child’s teacher to confirm academic levels, and process tutoring hours quickly for academic credit.
3.Prepare the family for the student-patient’s transition back to school.
Families of student-patients may have many questions regarding the transition back to the child’s school environment. By anticipating these concerns and addressing them during the course of a transition team meeting, hospitals and treatment facilities show that they are committed to both the care of the child while there, but also the whole child and ensuring a successful transition. Not only will this alleviate some concerns and help parents feel more prepared for challenges ahead, but it leads to greater patient satisfaction and fosters a positive relationship between the facility and the sending school district.
By proactively helping parents and caregivers understand the role and process of the hospital education program, and to provide helpful solutions to concerns and challenges, hospital staff can drive both confidence in programming and instill a reputation for caring for the whole child.