5 Answers to self-assessment questions
Study session 1
Some benefits of children’s participation for the child are:
- Involving children in their own health care makes children feel more respected, and less vulnerable.
- It helps relieve anxiety and enables children to cope better with treatment.
- It gives them confidence that actions will be taken without their knowledge or understanding.
Some benefits of child participation for the health professionals are:
- It will help you understand the child’s condition better, and enable you to treat them more effectively.
- It encourages co-operation, as children are likely to be less frightened and therefore more willing or able to co-operate in treatment. This, in turn, makes interventions more painful and distressing.
- It encourages children to take more responsibility for their own health because they develop a better sense of the causes and consequences of their actions or inactions.
Evolving capacities refers to the process of children gaining skills, knowledge and understanding as they grow older. As this happens, they are able to take increasing levels of responsibility for decisions that affect their lives. This is relevant in health care as it means you need to think about, for example:
- the way you give information to children
- the level of involvement they have in their own health care
- their growing need for privacy and confidentiality
- their right to take responsibility for decisions about their health care and treatment
Many objections are raised to children participating for example:
- Children do not have the capacity to participate in their own health care. However, even very small children can tell you what they like or dislike about being in hospital and can produce ideas for making their stay less frightening and distressing. It is necessary for health professionals to explore the many ways that enable the child to articulate these views, concerns and opinions.
- Involving children in decisions burdens them and takes away their childhood. Neither the UN Convention nor the African Charter imposes obligations on children to express their views. Rather, they provide a right for child to do so.
- Participation can lead to disrespect for parents. Listening to children is about respecting them and helping them learn to value the importance of respecting others. It is not about teaching them to ignore their parents. The UN Convention, for example, states that education should teach children respect for their parents. Children should not be led to believe they alone have a right to have a voice; wherever possible, their families should be involved too.
Your answer in identifying two things will be unique to your own facility but it is vital that you translate this learning into changes in the workplace.