Heart Center | Family Support

Boston Children's Hospital cares not only for patients' medical needs, but for the emotional and quality of life needs for both patients and their families.

Our goal is to create a safe and comforting environment for you and your family. We know that unfamiliar places, especially hospitals, often create anxiety and fear, and that this is not an easy time or task for loved ones who may have their own fears and concerns about the situation. Our family support services will help address many of those worries.

Our family-support teams include:

  • Patient care coordinators, who are available to assist with anticipated medical supply needs. Prior to admission, the coordinator will communicate with your insurance company. In addition, at the time of discharge the coordinator will meet with you to discuss home health care needs.

  • Clinical dietitians, who can help with your child's specific diet concerns. Many newborns with congestive heart disease require special high-calorie formula. Our dietitians can assist you with this and other dietary needs.

  • Social workers, who provide confidential support to parents and guardians during a child's hospitalization. They also assist with accessing community resources for families.

  • Resource specialists, who are available to assist families during hospitalization, with information about services available through the hospital and accommodations such as housing and transportation available in and around the city of Boston.

  • Child Life specialists, who help children cope with their hospitalization. They are also available to parents who would like to discuss issues related to siblings or child development. Child Life specialists hold bachelor's or master's degrees in the areas of child life, child development, special education or recreation therapy. They are also available to your child before they come into the hospital, for reassurance purposes. The Child Life specialist on 6 East can be reached at 617-355-6550.

Heart Center family services

Our family-centered services include: 

  • The Boston Children's chaplaincy has chaplains representing a variety of faiths, including Islam, Judaism, Protestantism and Roman Catholicism, who are available 24 hours a day to offer spiritual and emotional support, with sensitivity to families' religious traditions and primary language. Patients and families can request a chaplain's visit by calling the office at 617-355-6664, or by speaking with a nurse.

  • The Center for Families is dedicated to helping families find information and resources to assist in understanding their child's medical condition and to help participate in their care. The Center offers a place to:

    • find information on a medical condition, illness and treatment

    • learn about hospital and community resources

    • use computers to email home, write or search the Internet

    • request family-to-family support

    • borrow books with topics such as medical conditions, child development, parenting and sibling issues

    • consult with a lactation specialist

    • attend a workshop or seminar, such as "CPR for Infants and Children"

    • enter the Gift Basket and Book of the Month raffles

    • access special programs such as Paw Prints, the hospital's therapy dog visitation program

    • get information about accommodations that are available to Children's patient families, including hotels, hospitality homes and dormitory-style rooms at the hospital for parents of children in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit

  • Family information groups meet weekly on 6 East to answer specific questions concerning discharge planning, developmental issues and life after hospitalization. This group is facilitated by the cardiac social worker and child life specialist.

  • The hospital's Behavioral Medicine Clinic specializes in helping families adjust to acute and ongoing medical situations. Our experienced team of pediatric psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals provides effective and compassionate evaluations, education, counseling and therapy.

  • The Experience Journal is a website created by Boston Children's staff, allowing children, families and other caregivers to read about the experiences and feelings of other patients who have had heart disease.

  • More family support services are available, too.