Normalising healthcare

Yesterday I took our daughter and our HeartKid to Chadstone and coincidentally the Teddy Bear Hospital was on. Given that the kids spend a fair bit of time visiting medical clinics and talking about health, I'm always quite surprised that they want to do things like the Teddy Bear Hospital. But they were keen as.

If you have never heard of it, the Teddy Bear Hospital is an educational program established and actively run by volunteer medical, nursing, physiotherapy, optometry and dentistry students of the University of Melbourne. Basically, kids can take their teddies to the hospital to get fixed. It's a really fun activity for kids to do, where they move from one station/clinic to another, taking their teddy to the physio, doctor, dentist, speech pathologist, ambulance transfer, surgeon etc. I'd highly recommend it if you've never had the chance to go.

Watching my kids perform procedures on their teddies (or in their case rabbits), explain what was 'wrong' with them and learn how to fix them got me thinking that it's so important that we normalise healthcare for our kids. For some kids, their experience of healthcare might mean a checkup every now and nothing more. For others, they might have a more complex medical history like our HeartKid. Either way, getting our kids used to doctors, talking about procedures and using the correct terminology for anatomy is something I personally think is really important. Not only does it help us as parents get used to having those conversations with our kids, but it makes them inquisitive to understand what's actually going on with their bodies, gets them used to medics, and helps them learn that most problems can be fixed or patched up one way or another.

After all, it's not just us as adults who need to learn to navigate the healthcare system, but our kids too.