Operating Theatre support

Support for patients and families

It can be an anxious wait for parents or carers when their child is having surgery. The volunteers in our Operating Theatre Support service ensure that parents and families are supported during their time at hospital. The volunteers spend time with family members in the waiting room, entertain siblings, explain the theatre environment and assist the family where possible.

The company and reassurance of our volunteers can help to ease the family’s anxiety at the beginning, middle and end of each patient’s surgical journey. The Operating Theatre Support volunteers are there beforehand to support parents and family members, and to provide a reassuring word or a friendly ear while they wait for their child’s surgery to finish.

Post-operatively, the volunteers liaise between the team in the recovery ward and the family, reuniting parents with their children and supporting them in the Post Anaesthetic Care Unit.

Having volunteers available to provide focused support helps to reassure nervous parents and allows them to process the situation calmly. It is often after the child is taken into surgery that can be the hardest for the families. Up until that point, their energy and focus is completely on their child, and once that focus shifts our volunteers are there to provide support and care.

Our volunteers have helped countless families through their child’s surgical journey. Their attention and care makes their presence invaluable to families who may be experiencing incredible distress, while also helping medical staff who need to focus their attention on the patient.

Ethan’s Story

Ethan is a fifteen-year-old boy with an intellectual impairment and a significant medical history, which has meant that he and his family are very familiar with the Operating Theatre.

These trips to the Operating Theatre are really tough on Ethan and he can become highly anxious and difficult to calm, which can be quite hard for his parents.

Ethan’s mum Rachael was so impressed by the volunteers who were part of the Operating Theatre Service and it left a long-lasting impression.

“Because of Ethan’s intellectual impairment and lack of communication, his anxiety to come to theatre is always really high, it’s always a really awful experience for my husband and I – we just try to keep him calm and get him in there.

“On one occasion he had convinced us that he didn’t need a pre-med, so we proceeded without it, but it wasn’t long until he was extremely anxious, and we were trying our best to distract him.

“One of the volunteers was there and I couldn’t express how much I appreciated his support that day.

“He was trying to distract Ethan and engage with him; it was completely amazing.

“My husband and Ethan went on with the anaesthetist while I waited in the waiting area, but what I didn’t know was that Ethan had become more overwhelmed and refused to cooperate with the doctors and staff, so they had to give him a sedative.

“The volunteer came out and he was just the nicest young man, he explained what had happened – he just reassured me and asked if I needed anything.

“We’ve been to the hospital what feels like a million times, so I’m used to how these scenarios can play out, but this volunteer went out of his way to make sure Ethan was comfortable and that I was okay, and it meant the world.

“Even though we’re hospital regulars, you can’t underestimate what that support means in an environment like that. We’re trying our best as parents to keep our child calm and having someone else there to help is amazing.

“On other occasions I’ve been in the waiting room and have seen volunteers help other families, explain the procedures and walk them through the various steps, it’s just such an invaluable service.“

rks away, so I don’t think I would have been able to cope so well without the Kidzone and the amazing volunteers who work there.

“On weekends, the kids would just be waiting for 10am so that they could go play, they loved all the events that were on, especially the dance challenge – it made them feel special when I had to have my focus on Mahlia.

“It’s a place that’s all about fun and being a kid – watching my kids interact with other children and play with the volunteers, it meant the world.”

How to access Operating Theatre Support at Queensland Children’s Hospital

Operating Theatre Support is available from 7.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday. For more information on how to access this service, speak to your doctor or nurse.

Looking to volunteer?

Volunteers are a big help to families whose world has been turned upside down by a sudden illness or injury to their child. If you would like to help us work wonders with sick kids, head to our Get involved page to learn more about the many ways you can get involved with the Children’s Hospital Foundation.

If you have found all the information you need and would like to apply to become a Children’s Hospital Foundation volunteer, click the button below.