Family Support Program: Introduction

If you are a family member, professional medical staff member, a Host Family, a Rotarian or Gift of Life Chapter Member, these suggestions and guidelines to be used with families from different cultures throughout the world whose children are having heart surgery. It is important that all the families and their children have advocates before they leave for surgery, during the surgery and afterward when they are back home. Many parents are not acquainted with hospital procedures, special necessary medicines and the stress of going through this process. They need to be advocates for, and often need help in supporting their children in the most effective ways. To be seen and related to as collaborators is a necessary part of this process of return to health for their children.

The Family Guidelines for Preparation for Travel and Surgery will provide some useful suggestions for what families can bring with them, and for the what the families can tell their relatives and the children themselves as they experience this life saving journey.

We hope the Host Family Guidelines will make things run more smoothly from arrival to departure, in the home and at the hospital. It is recommended that each club and family that is hosting read the guidelines prior to arrival of the child and parent so that the most effective preparations can be made. In addition, we recommend that host families read the following Guidelines.

The Family Guidelines for Aftercare is to be used by families post-surgery in aiding adjustment to family life during the immediate recovery period and during the next year. In addition, the host family can review these Guidelines with the visiting parent during their child's hospital stay to prepare them most efficiently for discharge. The child and his family can then take them home to go over with their own relatives.

The Stress Reduction suggestions may be helpful in assessing those children who need extra attention as they go through the surgery and recovery, especially those who have never been separated from very attentive parents or who have been overprotected.

The Guidelines have been formulated with cultural sensitivity to serve English and Spanish speaking populations. If you are in a Rotary District speaking a language other than English or Spanish, please feel free to translate them into your language. In addition, if the guidelines and/or pictures need to be altered to suit a specific cultural setting, we welcome those changes or any questions you may have. Changes can be inserted into the materials you give to the families and we ask that you also send them to Ms. Fredlee Ann Kaplan, LCSW, at 303 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1103, New York, NY 10016, through email. We appreciate your participation in making these guidelines as culturally relevant as possible for families around the world.