Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Respite care on a children's ward.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 293 doi: (Published 19 July 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;293:191
  1. D M Hall,
  2. R J West,
  3. C J Bungay


    In March 1984 a short term respite care facility for handicapped children was opened in a children's ward catering primarily for acute medical and surgical problems. The facility was based on a four bedded room designed so that if beds became short in the main ward it could revert immediately to the care of acutely sick children. Three nurses were appointed specifically to staff the facility, the nursing budget for the rest of the ward being reduced proportionately. Conversions were funded by charities and some of the conversion work done by volunteers. The main users were totally dependent children aged under 5 with severe mental and physical handicaps. Parents found the service invaluable, and in addition to planned admissions it was usually possible to accept a child at short notice--for example, when some domestic crisis occurred. Only very rarely was admission impossible because of the needs of acutely ill children. A short term respite care facility not only helps parents cope and may provide beneficial experience for a handicapped child but is also a useful training ground for medical students and junior staff.