Children differ physically and mentally from adults and therefore react in a different manner. Policies made for adults therefore cannot simply be applied to children. Evidence to date suggests that children have a low risk of serious COVID-19, caused by a coronavirus, but severe cases can still happen in these age groups and special attention is needed to be given for the impact it has on them.
EACH calls upon all governments, policy makers, staff in hospitals and in all other healthcare facilities, as well as general practitioners, to respect the needs and rights of children regarding the consequences due to COVID-19, as stipulated in the EACH CHARTER.
Children and Coronavirus
Up till now hospitalization because of coronavirus is rather rare for children. When children are affected with this virus, ‘child and family-centred care’ is not less, but more important for them and for their parents and siblings. Regulated presence of parents and siblings can help the child to cope. It’s important to consider the child's individual special needs and respect the family’s way of coping as much as possible.
Specific professional paediatric training and experience is needed in all healthcare services to be able to respond with empathy to the physical and emotional needs of sick children. Children should not be cared for together with adults or in adult wards.
According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (0-18), the best interests of the child should prevail in all situations (UNCRC, art3).
Children without Coronavirus
If children are admitted to hospital or to any other overnight health facility, with diseases or conditions unrelated to coronavirus, it should be carefully considered which preventive restrictions are absolutely necessary. Care must be taken to decide whether these measures have been prompted by actions taken for adults in relation to coronavirus. Separation from parents can cause extra stress. Stress can negatively influence the healing process and can be the cause of post-traumatic emotional problems. The principles of ‘child and family-centred care’ should remain as the standard in health services for children.
in case of continuing regular care and rescheduled appointments
concerning testing children for COVID-19
Whether or not to test a child for COVID-19 is a personal choice with advantages and disadvantages. Taking a test is a shared decision of the child, parents and professionals. The following considerations can help parents and healthcare professionals in making this decision. Of course, there can be exceptions due to medical necessity or the child’s medical background.
concerning parents’ involvement and presence of parents:
Being separated from parents during illness and hospitalization can have a major impact on the child’s wellbeing. Staying together is crucial for the emotional development and bonding, especially with babies and young children. This will lower the negative psychosocial impact for the child (and the parents) during their stay in a healthcare facility. Parents who can choose to stay with their sick child and refrain from physical contact with other patients and the outside world, while taking care of their own child, are less at risk of spreading the virus than other caregivers.
in matters stated below:
Background to EACH
EACH, the European Association for Children in Hospital, is an international umbrella organisation open to European non-governmental, non-profit national associations involved in the welfare of children in hospital and other healthcare services.
All the member associations promote the implementation of the EACH Charter. In the EACH Charter the standards are set for the quality of care and the rights of children and their families. The articles in the Charter apply to all children, regardless of their age, illness, disability as well as their religion and their social or cultural background. The activities of the member organisations of EACH are adapted to the needs of each particular country.
The UNCRC defines the age of a child to be from 0 –18 years. In accordance with the UNCRC, the term ‘child’ in this document includes all children, from newborn to adolescent.
The term ‘parent’ in this document refers to an adult providing a primary caring role to a child. The relationship of the person who provides this caring role can extend beyond family members but the carer is familiar, trustworthy and acceptable to the child and parent.
Child and family-centred care is a philosophy of care. Respect for the role of family members as care partners is the essence of CFCC.
Those family members who play the most important caring role in the child’s life, are seen as an integral part of the healthcare team.
They are considered the experts on the child’s needs and are supported in their caregiving role, while staying with their child in hospital and at home.
Hospital staff shares all information concerning the child’s health with the child and/or the family members in a supportive way in order to prepare them better for shared decision-making.
Birthrights is the UK charity that champions respectful care for women during pregnancy and childbirth.
Birthrights remarks: "... that the coronavirus pandemic is impacting all areas of care and we know that NHS maternity services are facing huge challenges and upheaval. Despite this, babies will continue to be born at the same rate as ever during this crisis (...) Changes and restrictions to services must be proportionate to the real risks and any restrictions must not compromise caregivers’ ability to provide safe, compassionate care."
More on this in their "Birthrights Statement"