Coming to stay in hospital

If you or your child is coming to PCH for a planned operation or for a medical reason, we have some information on what to expect and some tips on what to do to prepare before, during and after a visit to hospital.

You can also download Your guide to PCH (PDF 12MB) with everything you need to know about a stay at PCH.

Getting prepared

When your child’s admission to hospital is booked, you will receive a letter in the mail outlining what you need to do on the day that you are due to be admitted. What you need to prepare:
  • Have a think about any questions you might have for your child’s nurse, doctor or healthcare provider.
  • Follow the instructions in your pre-admission letter – some procedures will have specific instructions you will need to follow before and while you are being admitted, such as fasting.
  • Get together your list of what to bring to hospital (take a look at our suggestions below!)
  • Find out more about the key facilities and amenities in the hospital like:
    • Parking
    • Food and drink
    • Facilities
    • Maps of PCH

What to bring to hospital for your child

  • Medications: any medications your child is currently taking including creams and puffers
  • Medical equipment or disability aids
  • Pyjamas (a dressing gown and slippers are optional)
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, brush, comb etc.
  • Casual and comfortable daytime clothes and shoes
  • A favourite toy: a comforting doll, teddy or other comfort item (please label this with their name and contact details in case it gets lost!)
  • Entertainment: we have some great options for fun and entertainment in hospital, but you can also bring in your own handheld devices or board games. 
  • Nappies: disposable, along with wipes and disposal bags
  • School work provided by your child’s school
  • If your child uses an assistive switch device at home, it may be compatible with the Patient Entertainment System (PES).

What to bring to hospital for you

  • Comfortable clothing
  • Personal items such as toiletries, pyjamas, slippers etc. if you are planning to stay overnight in the room with your child
  • Medicare card and private insurance details
  • Books or devices for entertainment
  • Plug in phone charger
  • A pen and notebook to write down any questions or information you might need.

How to prepare your child

A hospital visit can be frightening for a person of any age, but especially for children. Below are tips on how to prepare your child for their hospital visit before, during and after their stay.
  • Talk to your child: reassure them that you will be with them and staying in their room (if this is what you decide). This includes if they have to undergo a general anaesthetic – you can stay with them when they are put to sleep and when they wake up in recovery.
  • Hospital play: incorporate play into talking about coming to hospital by doing things like bandaging a teddy, listening to a heartbeat and taking medicine.
  • Tell your child’s school, day care or kindergarten about their upcoming stay in hospital: they may be able to help prepare your child, provide schoolwork and stay in touch if your child has a longer stay.

Being admitted to hospital

If your admission to hospital is planned, you will receive a letter outlining what you need to do and where you need to go on your day of admission. You will also need your Medicare card, private health insurance information (if you have this) and your GP’s contact details.

If your child is sick with a fever, runny nose, cough or diarrhoea or you cannot attend your admission for any reason, please let us know as soon as possible.

These are the steps you will need to follow on your arrival at PCH:

  1. Make sure you arrive on time for your admission.
  2. Follow the instructions in the pre-admission letter on where to go when you arrive.
  3. The Admissions Clerk will check in your child.
  4. They will then direct you on where to go next – you may go for more tests or assessments or be taken to the ward.
  5. If you are advised to go directly to the ward, a clerk and a nurse will admit your child and let you know what will happen next.

What you need to tell us


Staff caring for your child need to be aware of any allergies your child may have. These need to be documented and your child will be given a red identification band to wear. Please discuss with the staff any allergic reactions your child may have to any medications, foods or other products.

Medications and complementary alternative medications

For your child’s safety, we need to know about all the medicines they have been taking including those prescribed by a doctor, over the counter medicines, natural alternative or complementary medicines such as vitamins, minerals, tonics, herbal and homeopathic remedies. Please bring all these with you so that you can show your doctor, nurse or ward pharmacist.

Dietary requirements

Tell us about your child’s dietary needs once he/she has been admitted. However, if your child has very special dietary needs and you would like to discuss these before admission, please ask to speak to the Nutrition and Dietetics Department.

Interpreter requirements

Interpreter logo

PCH provides an interpreter service for children and families who cannot effectively communicate in English. This includes people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal people and Deaf or hard of hearing people who communicate in Auslan.

If you have any difficulties communicating with our staff in English, you can ask for an interpreter any time you need help. Our staff can arrange for a professional interpreter to talk to you.

It is important to us that you understand all information given to you, services being offered and feel comfortable signing any required documentation.

Interpreter services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are provided to patients and their families free of charge.

Find out more about the PCH Interpreter Service and how to request assistance

Having an operation

If your child is having a planned operation, you will receive special instructions in your admission letter. If you have any questions about these instructions, please contact us.

Please note: the admission time on your letter is not the time your child will have their operation.

If your child has private insurance, you should be contacted by our Private Patient Liaison Officer prior to your admission to discuss your options. However, should you not have heard from us a week before your admission date, please contact us on 6456 5246 in order to ensure that your choice of doctor is available to do the operation on the day.

You can expect:

  • A call from the Pre-Anaesthetic Nurse who will phone you between 12pm and 5pm two working days before the operation to give you the fasting instructions and your admission times. If you do not receive this call, please call 6456 3804.
  • For anaesthetic safety, your child must not have anything to eat (this includes even chewing gum) or drink after the time specified in your letter – the operation could be cancelled or delayed if they do.
  • You and your child will meet the anaesthetist and surgeon before the operation.
  • You will be able to stay with your child while they are put to sleep and then after the operation as they are waking up in recovery.
Last reviewed: 19-07-2019
Last updated: 11-12-2023

Contact us

Details on who to contact if you have an issue should be in your pre-admission letter.

If you need to contact someone about your child's surgery, please refer to the list of clerks for each specialty below.

Contact a specialty

Ear, nose and throat

Phone: 6456 1104

Plastics and Burns

Phone: 6456 1103

General surgery, Ophthalmology and Orthopaedics

Phone: 6456 1102

Gastroentrology, Rheumatology, Endocrinology and Paediatric Rehabilitation

Phone: 6456 1101


Phone: 6456 4973

CT/MRI - Medical Imaging

Phone: 6456 0014

Waitlist coordinator

Phone: 6456 1106

For emergencies or urgent concerns