Going to hospital

You may still be feeling shocked and numb about what has happened. But there are a few practicalities that you'll need to think about in the days and weeks ahead.

What you'll need for hospital


Most children's and young people's wards have space for one parent or carer to stay while their child is having treatment. Some have rooms where other family members can stay too. Most hospitals have laundry facilities where you can wash clothes. The hospital may have other self-catering accommodation, though you may have to pay for this and it may not always be available.

Some of the children's cancer centres have a CLIC Sargent Home from Home nearby. These offer free self-catering accommodation where families can stay while their child is having treatment, and siblings are welcome too.

"It's hard to think about practical things when you're so preoccupied with your child."


Travel to and from your child's hospital, whether by car or public transport, can be expensive. If you are on a low income and receiving benefits, the hospital may reimburse part or all of your travel costs so remember to keep your receipts. Free hospital transport may be available too, if your child has clinical needs that make using public
transport impossible. 

Check with your child's consultant or specialist nurse to confirm whether it's okay for your child to travel by public transport.

Useful travel websites:


The cost and availability of parking varies from hospital to hospital. Check the hospital's website for details. You may be able to buy a weekly, monthly or even annual parking permit that works out cheaper. Ask your CLIC Sargent Social Worker if this is available at your child’s hospital. A Blue Badge can also help with parking costs. Your local authority may issue one if your child has mobility problems.

What you'll need in hospital

Here are some of the items you'll need to bring from home:

  • Phone charger
  • Toiletries
  • Books and magazines
  • Clothes for you and your child
  • Pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown
  • Brush or comb
  • Diary or organiser
  • Pens
  • Your child’s favourite toys and games
  • Washing powder or liquid.

Electrical items will need to be tested before you can use them on the ward. Healthcare assistants on the ward can usually organise this for you quite quickly.

Many parents have told us they found it useful to have a packed bag by the door or in the boot of the car, for unexpected trips to hospital.

Most hospitals also provide their own information about the wards, hospital facilities and local area. You can find details of UK hospitals that treat children with cancer in your area


If you have other children who will need looking after while you are at the hospital, and finding consistent childcare is a problem, talk to your CLIC Sargent Social Worker who may be able to help. If you or your partner is an employee, you/they may be entitled to time off for dependants in order to organise emergency childcare.

Reviewed November 2015, next planned review 2016.