Fact sheetPaediatric rehabilitation: minimum standards and toolkit

Published on 16 Dec 2022

Inpatient rehabilitation for children and young people in NSW

This fact sheet is for parents, carers and young people. It has been designed with the help of other families who have travelled a similar path to you with their own child.

It aims to answer some of the questions you may have about the rehabilitation journey with your child or young person. The information is designed to help you and your rehabilitation team make a shared decision about what is best for you and your child.

Please feel free to ask questions, now and in the future, and get the information you need to make decisions regarding your child.

Why might my child need to stay in hospital for rehabilitation?

When your child stays in a hospital for medical care they are known as an inpatient. Inpatient rehabilitation helps children and young people improve their abilities and skills following an accident or illness.

The type and amount of rehabilitation needed is often only available in hospital and not in other places, such as a community health clinic.

How long might we stay in hospital for rehabilitation?

It is not always possible to know how long you will stay in hospital. Some children may stay days, some have weeks or months of specialised rehabilitation.

The goals of your child’s rehabilitation stay will be set following a discussion between you, your child and their rehabilitation team.

Factors, such as how accessible your home is or what services are available near your home, can also affect how long you might stay.

Each child is different and their rehabilitation program is designed specifically for them. Your rehabilitation team can help you understand what factors may impact how long your child stays in hospital.

How much rehabilitation does my child need?

Each child and their recovery is different. To get the best outcome it is important that your rehabilitation program is matched to your child’s needs and abilities, and their rehabilitation goals.

Research has shown that, for many children, high intensity rehabilitation is important. It can produce faster improvements in skills.

High intensity rehabilitation means having lots of rehabilitation therapy, every day.

High intensity rehabilitation may not be available close to home, however a lower intensity may still allow your child to reach their goals and improve their skills.

Does my local hospital provide the rehabilitation my child needs?

This is an important question. For many children, having rehabilitation closer to home helps to bring the child closer to their family and local supports.

Your local hospital may have therapists with the skills and experience to look after your child. A member of the rehabilitation team can contact your local hospital (with your permission) to find out what they can offer.

It’s important to know that not all local hospitals will be able to provide rehabilitation to children, even if they do provide it to adults.

Some hospitals may only provide rehabilitation for children who have been discharged home and not for children who are staying in hospital.

What are the options for my child?

The main options for inpatient rehabilitation are:

  • staying at the specialist children’s hospital. This may be the best option during the intensive rehabilitation stage.
  • staying in a hospital closer to home. This may be the best option for later stages of rehabilitation.

Where you can access inpatient rehabilitation will vary for each child. Your child will receive treatment based on their stage of recovery.

Things to think about include:

  • Your goals for your child
  • Family and work circumstances – do you have other children, work or reasons you need to be closer to home?
  • What therapy services are available near your home? Your rehabilitation team can help find this out.

It’s important to talk through the available options with your rehabilitation team or doctor. Make sure you have the time and information to understand the options available and think about your individual circumstances.

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