The CHOC Feeding Program :: The Emotional Journey of the Feeding Program
It’s perfectly normal to feel apprehensive, even nervous, about the aspect of living at a hospital, day in and day out, undergoing feeding therapy. The associates at CHOC Children’s understand that it is difficult to be away from home and family and do everything possible to make sure that the accommodations provided to those going through the feeding program are as comfortable as possible.
Most children and their families have been through a lot of emotions and medical decisions before entering the feeding program. Between appointments with doctors and therapists and working with the child on his or her feeding struggles over the years, it is understandable for families to feel exhausted and emotional and for relationships, including those between parent and child, to feel strained. At CHOC Children’s, we understand this and work with each parent and child to provide them with the support and courage they need to overcome the past and look toward a bright future. The work may not be easy, but we are each family every step of the way.
19 Days at CHOC
The length and intensity of the inpatient program can be difficult at times both for the child and caregiver. Because of this, it is important to allow for down time and try to bring items that may help you and your child feel more at home. Learn more about the items caregivers and patients should bring with them to the CHOC Children’s Multidisciplinary Feeding Program.
Although the program is an intense focus on feeding therapy, and the treatment process can be easier knowing that family is close by. Often, a second parent, grandparent or other family member stays at the local Ronald McDonald House. This allows the second caregiver to observe or participate in some therapy session, attend meetings and spend time with the primary caregiver when he or she spends time away from the hospital. (Some patients also stay at Ronald McDonald House the night before their admission to the program or when they come to CHOC for follow-up appointments. The child’s social worker can help make arrangements at Ronald McDonald House.)
While visitors can make the 19 days in the hospital easier, it is important to know that there is a very strict policy regarding visitors and siblings at the hospital in order to make sure the child can focus on his or her therapy and not others. Learn more about the visitor policy.
Hitting A Wall
Many children and even parents will “hit a wall” during their time in the inpatient feeding program. This can mean many different things including, feeling overwhelmed, tired or “stuck.” To help combat these feelings, the CHOC Children’s playroom is open six hours each day. While in the playroom, specially trained volunteers and child life specialists provide age-appropriate, supervised play activities. These activities can provide children a temporary escape from treatment and the child’s caregiver a break to run errands, exercise, shop or just get away from the hospital for an hour.
The child participating in the program must stay at the hospital with the exception of special passes granted during the last weekend of the program so that the child can practice his or her new feeding skills out in the community. Staying at the hospital requires the child to focus on the feeding therapy and activities related to feeding.