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Gifts for Family with child in hospital (long term)

(17 Posts)
wakesandquakes Tue 08-Jul-08 23:08:46

Old friends have droped the bombshell that their 9month old DD has been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. This is going to mean significant hospital treatment and the family relocating semi-permanently in the initial 6-8 months of treatment. We live at the other end of the country and so physical support is difficult.

I'm looking for help and ideas for what would be good in terms ways/gifts/ideas to support both their DD, them and of course their five year old DS (they hope the DS and DH can stay at home during the week and then move to the hospital/attached house? for w/ends). Do you know of any families in this situation? What sort of thing would be most appreciated? Thanks

UnderRated Wed 09-Jul-08 03:35:05

Do they have somewhere to stay?

I work with families in this situation - we provide a house next to the hospital where families can stay as long as they need to - some stay for many many months.

IME, what is most appreciated is food. Meals, snacks, juice boxes - things that can be grabbed quickly and taken to the hospital to eat as & when they can. Packets of hot chocolate, granola bars, little boxes of cereal, nuts, dried fruit, real fruit etc. Where they are staying may well provide those things though. The DH might appreciate help with meals, if he is staying home with the 5 yr old during the week and presumably working?


Books (for adults & children)
DVDs (if there is somewhere to watch them)
Art supplies for the children
Cleaning the house so they don't have to
Running errands/ getting groceries for them
Mowing the lawn
Babysitting to give them a break every now and then
Phone cards/ Top up for mobiles
Change for coke machine

Um, will keep thinking

UnderRated Wed 09-Jul-08 03:38:35

Oh, I just saw, you are at the other end of the country blush

Maybe an delivery of groceries in a few weeks when other people have forgotten?

I think just keeping in contact is important - let them know that you are thinking of them but that you understand they are busy and don't expect them to call back - that you just wanted them to know you were thinking of them.

And you said they have somewhere to stay - do you know where it is? Or what it is?

UnderRated Wed 09-Jul-08 03:53:48

When we have families staying for months on end, they often like to do stuff away from the hospital from time to time - vouchers to nearby restaurants, tickets to museums etc are often appreciated. But they won't want to do anything like that for the first few weeks/ months.

I hope all goes well. I know this is a terrible time for them.

cmotdibbler Wed 09-Jul-08 10:46:17

Deliveries of nice ready meals/ M&S vouchers so that they can pick up food to eat quickly without worrying about cost.

A lovely quilt or blanket for DD and mum, especially if mum will be sleeping alongside her. I've seen some beautiful (and much treasured) ones made by friends as part of 'covered in love' projects. Eyemask, slipper socks, really nice pyjamas (the sort that look more like joggers and tshirt) for mum also. Nice little shower gels etc.

Nintendo DS/games for DS (I know hes a bit little for it, but there will be an awful lot of hanging around)

I'll ask a colleague who had to move across the US for 4 months whilst his son was on treatment for some ideas

wakesandquakes Wed 09-Jul-08 17:47:20

Thanks for the messages, will add more later tonight.

Saggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 09-Jul-08 18:04:56

Hi wakes - how nice of you to think of your friends. I have an online friend whose dd is in the middle of treatment for ALL at the moment. It's been really tough on them all.

It's hard as you don't live locally. I spent 3 months in hospital away from home when my dd was small. It was expensive just surviving TBH so any help you can give with food vouchers etc will be welcomed I'm sure. And sending magazines/CDs would be great - the little girl is likely to be pretty much cot bound so they'll be looking for things to do. And phone top ups would be helpful.

I think it's important to think in the long term. I remember that we had lots of help and visitors initially but then it all sort of dropped off and yet we were still there, plodding on. This will be a long road so if you can do something small but keep it up over the months I think they'll be grateful.

wakesandquakes Wed 09-Jul-08 21:57:10

Thanks again, it's been useful hearing thoughts and ideas adn I've had a little time to try and think what to do. I like the idea of being supportive in a practical way but geography doesn't really help here.

At the moment I think a freezer load of lovely ready meals might be the ticket. For those times you don't feel like eating/cooking/shopping/paying more money. And then maybe doing it again in a couple of months time (asssuming they find it helpful!)

Perhaps a magazine subscription too - a small regular treat, something light and frothy, not to demanding but diverting and easy to dip into. Hmm, now what could that be...? Thomas the tank engine might be a good idea for the DS but what about Mum?

They have been allocated a room in a house up the road from the hospital, where the parents can alternate nights in there with DS and in the hospital with DD. So there is a bit of a base there but I'm not sure how much of a home-from-home it is and what is provided. I guess we'll find out in due course.

I really feel for them. Being a parent is great but it can be sooo tough too. Before DCs I would have said, 'oh that's awful', now I get quite upset and think it's so unimaginably tough having to carry on and be strong and that any of my whinges are so trivial and all this puts it into perspective. So any little thing I can do to help them as parents has to be a good thing. Thanks for your thoughts. Any more ideas though, let me know, as SMBK said this is for the long run and new little ways of helping over the coming months would be great.

UnderRated Thu 10-Jul-08 00:50:30

If they are staying at a Ronald MacDonald House, it really should be a 'home away from home' - that is the whole point of them. I have worked at two and they are lovely - many meals provided, tea, coffee, comfy rooms, phones, tvs, snacks, computers etc. It depends a lot on the staff though & location.

Magazine subscrition is a good idea (although hospitals tend to be full of old magazines) but definitely long-term things when everybody else has forgotten. Seeing families go through this kind of thing really gives you perspective.

cmotdibbler Thu 10-Jul-08 08:33:05

How about a subscription to 'Hello' - its the sort of thing that requires no thought, but is somehow very diverting. And she can then leave each copy in the parents room for others to enjoy.

Talking to Greg yesterday, he said that their friends seemed to have organised a rota so that someone emailed/texted them everyday to fill them in on the local gossip/what was going on at school, and made sure that this continued through all the times that they were away. This meant they didn't feel disconnected with the community when they came back.

He also said that a big insulated coffee mug (the sort with a sippy top) was a great boon as it was safer on the ward, and meant you could make a big drink before the childrens bedtime and have a hot drink for longer. Also one of those tiny book lights - its a long haul from 7 till a time that an adult goes to sleep. And if theres a commercial food/drink outlet in the hospital (lots have branded ones now), then a gift card for those was really appreciated.

windygalestoday Thu 10-Jul-08 09:18:05

you sound a lovely friend i would hve said offering your time to help with house chores and care for the other dc but s you dont live nearby thats not eay so really money is the only other thing that can make a hospital stay easier.....the pjs for mum are a fab idea and nice toiletry treats

mishymoo Thu 10-Jul-08 09:27:10

I'm so sorry your friend is going through this. Some great gift ideas for mum on here but please don't forget about Dad. Maybe you could organise a day trip or something that he and his DS could do together.

Romy7 Thu 10-Jul-08 09:32:18

OK - thinking practically - in two weeks time the ds is going to be out of school, presumably with one parent at the hospital and one at work during the week - do they know how they are going to manage over the holidays? it maybe that the dad has managed compassionate leave over the hols, but if not maybe you could go over for a week or invite the ds to you? don't know how close you are to the ds so may not be practical. would have to be as a 'treat' rather than 'get him out of the way'...
some friends went through this two years ago with their ds (the dd was 9 so a little older) and it was the practical stuff - lifts, food, childsitting, overnights etc that was just essential to allow their life to carry on.
i have to say cash was the thing in the shortest supply - petrol was an absolute necessity and there is no way you can budget with a child in hospital and a job to get back to.

wakesandquakes Thu 10-Jul-08 22:22:51

More good ideas here. They'll be in a CLIC house in Bristol which sounds like it's going to be the best place to be. More ideas I'd had - money off petrol vouchers (petrol at what price! and they'll be doing more miles than me). ALso wondered about a stash of birthday cards - you know the sort of thing when you suddenly realise that there's another one approaching and you can't be bothered to go shopping for this stuff. I know they have many more imporant things to think about but maybe it's one less detail to think about. Any more? (School holidays - what a nightmare, but think Granny is donning her white knight outfit and coming to the rescue. See - even when they grow up and have left home for eons, they are still your little ones and you will move heaven and earth for them (well most of them anyway smile).

cmotdibbler Fri 11-Jul-08 08:31:17

Great idea on the birthday cards - Lakeland do a book that you can file cards in with a pocket for each month, and an extra bit for random birth/wedding etc. The Book People do a giant box of nice cards for not a lot. A big book of stamps would be thoughtfull in there.

Maybe a journal to write about it all in ? Depends if she's the reflective sort.

Theres an M&S not far from the childrens hospital in Bristol (about 5 min walk), so a gift card for there so that they can pick up nice food to microwave might be good.

Podmog Fri 11-Jul-08 08:38:15

Message withdrawn

potoftea Fri 11-Jul-08 09:24:05

Had a child in hospital for over a year and I found the shortage of money really difficult. My dh had been working long hours previously, but had to cut way back, and we seemed to be spending money all the time on petrol and eating in the hospital. So any vouchers for Tesco or whatever would be welcomed I think. Dh workmates took up a collection for us, and those few hundred pounds made such a difference.

Also simply dropping a card and short letter to them every two weeks or so will remind them that they are not forgotten. We got so many cards in the first month, but the ones I really appreciated are those sent by the same people again, several months later.

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