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Frequently Asked Questions | Overview

How long will my child have to stay at the Inpatient Psychiatry Service?

Length of stay on the IPS usually ranges from a few days to a few weeks, but it varies depending on the reason for admission, the progress that your child makes while here, and the resources available in the community to your family. The treatment team will be able to give specifics and develop a treatment plan with your input. Overall, it is our goal to make your child’s stay only as long as is needed to address the problems that brought them to the hospital.

How old are the kids on the unit?

Ages range from 8 to 17. For the purposes of school and some therapeutic activities, the children are divided into younger (school-aged) and older (adolescent) groups.

Can I stay overnight with my child?

Caregivers cannot stay overnight with their children. We know this is difficult for some caregivers, but please be assured that staff are available 24 hours/day to ensure your child’s comfort and safety. Every effort will be made to notify you immediately if there is a significant change in your child’s condition.

Will my child have their own room?

Usually not, unless there are specific circumstances. Most of our patient rooms are semi-private rooms with two patients.

When can I see my child?

Visiting hours for caregivers and siblings are weekdays from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Wednesday evenings, visiting is extended until 8 p.m. and there is a family night activity.

Can other people visit my child?

Yes. Your child’s treatment team will ask you for a list of people (friends or extended family) who have your permission to visit. These visits should be prearranged with the team. Anyone younger than 21 years old must be accompanied and supervised by the patient’s caregiver(s).

Does my child wear regular clothes while they are in the hospital?

Yes. You can bring comfortable clothes for your child to wear, such as play or school clothes. You should also bring pajamas.

What else should I bring?

It is a good idea to bring some things that will make your child comfortable, such as a blanket and/or pillow. Items such as unframed photos, books, posters, stuffed animals, a journal, stationery, hair care products, and electric razors can also be brought onto the unit. Anything sharp (razors, pins, scissors, or glass or metal picture frames) or other items that may not be safe for the children on the unit should be left at home. Our staff will check any belongings that you bring to ensure their safety.

How do I get in touch with my child?

To reach your child, your child’s treatment team, or a staff person on the unit urgently, call 617-355-7721. If your child or the staff you are looking for are not immediately available, the staff will take a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible. Caregivers should feel comfortable calling the unit at any time.

What will my child eat while in the hospital?

Meals are served family style, with patients and staff eating together. There is generally one meal selection but some children on the unit have special diets, depending on their medical or dietary needs. You can let the staff know if your child has any dietary restrictions.

What about school?

During the academic year, part of every weekday is dedicated to school. We have two teachers, one for grades 1 to 8 and one for grades 9 to 12. With your permission, they will help gather assignments from your child’s school so your child can keep up with some schoolwork while on the unit.

With so many people involved, whom do I ask about my child’s progress?

The primary person to ask about your child’s progress and treatment is their social worker, who is usually available by phone (617-355-7721) after 10:30 a.m. during the week.

If they are not immediately available, you can leave a message that will be returned as soon as possible. The nursing staff person who is on duty at the time you call can answer questions about how your child is doing or how they are spending the day. The staff member assigned to your child during each shift is available to answer questions that arise on evenings and weekends.

Will my child have medication changes without my knowledge?

No. Caregivers must be involved and give consent for any medication additions or changes. Only in an emergency would medication ever be administered to your child without your prior knowledge. In such a case, every effort will be made to get in touch with you as soon as possible.

What do I tell other people about where my child is?

This is a question that most caregivers struggle with at some point during their child’s admission. Be selective. Know who you are talking to. Use the IPS staff to discuss how to talk about your child’s hospitalization with family, friends, and other community members.

Remember that different people are going to have different reactions — some you will expect, and some will surprise you. You may be pleasantly surprised at how supportive one person is, while being disappointed at another person’s reaction. Remember that you choose how much information to share.