While lockdown has been a challenge for everyone, parents and carers may have faced the additional stress of caring for an unwell child. Some families have been unsure whether to seek help because of fears of contracting the virus or of overburdening the health service.
“During the first wave of COVID, parents and carers did an amazing job of treating minor problems at home and seeking telephone advice from 111, GP surgeries or the local pharmacy,” says Dr Simon Clark, Vice President for Policy at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
“The NHS is always open for families with concerns about their child, but if children can be appropriately managed at home, this will allow healthcare workers to focus their attention on helping the most unwell patients. This is even more important now that the NHS is facing the added pressure of people being ill with the usual winter illnesses.”
Children rarely get ill with COVID-19. And research has shown that families often don’t think that their child is seriously unwell, but they may need reassurance or advice to confirm this. This support can increase their confidence in making safe decisions about their child’s health.
To help reassure families in situations when they can stay at home, the Operation Ouch presenters—Ronx, Chris and Xand van Tulleken—have released five short videos providing easy-to-follow advice on minor injuries and illnesses. These include fever, head injury, diarrhoea, baby breathing problems, and asthma.
The Operation Ouch videos are aimed at children but designed to be watched by families, and they contain “grown-up alerts” to highlight key points. The information in the videos follows national guidance and is balanced to ensure that families are neither unnecessarily scared nor falsely reassured.
They are now available to watch on the Healthier Together YouTube channel.
The videos had clinical input from Dr Damian Roland and were inspired by the ongoing ASK SNIFF project and the PERUKI Paediatric Emergency Televised Education (PETE) study involving Dr Sarah Fissler and Dr Mark Lyttle.
The College has also produced a set of posters providing advice for families about how and when to seek medical help if a child is unwell.