Multi-sensory impaired children in hospital

Going into hospital can be a daunting experience for any child. For children who are deafblind or have multi-sensory impairments (MSI) the challenges are even greater. 

A young girl in hospital with someone holding a mirrored drum for her

Because they have little or no sight or hearing, often combined with other disabilities, children who are both deaf and blind can easily become frightened and disorientated in unfamiliar surroundings.

We know that hospital staff will only meet deafblind children occasionally and may be uncertain how best to support their MSI needs. However, there is a lot that can be done to make a child’s stay more pleasant and comfortable, plus plenty of information on the various different causes of deafblindness.

Hospitals booklet

To help support hospital staff we have produced a practical booklet – Multi-Sensory Impaired Children in Hospital. This explains what is meant by multi-sensory impairment and how this affects the everyday lives of children and families. It also offers practical tips and ideas to help make the hospital stay less stressful - and includes resources for staff who would like to know more. 

The booklet is available for download and would be of interest to all hospital and community medical and support staff and to parents.

Download Multi-sensory impaired children in hospital booklet

Other resources for parents

Front cover of Multi-sensory impaired children in hospital bookletYou can help hospital staff understand the needs of your child by using one of the following:

Personal Passport – passports are a good way of bringing together the most useful information about your child, the people in their life and their likes and dislikes. Passports can be left by your child’s bed, so that anyone visiting them when you are away can look through and find out more about them.

My Visitors – children in hospital are often visited by a wide range of staff. ‘My Visitors’ is a way of encouraging staff to let you know they have visited your child and gives them chance to leave you a message.

Come and Say Hello - a bright sheet for you to complete and put up above your child’s bed. There’s space for a child’s name and photo and a message to encourage staff to communicate with your child.

My Place Mat – every child has their likes and dislikes around food. This is an eye catching and simple way of getting that message across. There are spaces for you to add information on what you child does like to eat, what they don’t like and the texture of food that might work best for them.

Further support for parents

If your child goes into hospital and you would like some support around this please contact your identified Sense worker. If you are new to Sense, then please contact Sense’s Information and Advice service who will ensure that you are put in touch with the right person.

Further support for staff

Sense Children’s Specialist Services also have experience of providing training for health services staff on deafblindness and are able to offer practical suggestions about how best to support MSI children in hospital.

If you would like to find out about commissioning Sense to provide training for your team, please contact Sense’s Information and Advice service.

First published: Tuesday 6 August 2013
Updated: Thursday 17 March 2016