We know that staying at the hospital can be overwhelming. Whether your stay at SickKids is planned or not, we’ve put together some resources to help answer some of your question and help make your stay here at SickKids as comfortable and positive as possible.
When you arrive on your unit you will be offered a copy of our SickKids Patient and Family Welcome Guide. The guide has information about the hospital, our services, and tools to help you track information about your stay.
If your child is being admitted to SickKids for surgical and/or medical reasons, you can prepare by reading our Coming for Surgery and Coming for Appointment sections. If you’re coming to SickKids for an Emergency, please visit our Coming to Emergency sections for important information.
COVID-19 family and visitor restrictions
SickKids is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. Please check our COVID-19 Information Hub often for the latest updates on clinical services, access to the hospital, and how we are keeping our patients, families and staff safe.
For the protection of everyone at SickKids, the easing of family and visitor restrictions is happening at a gradual and cautious pace. As a children’s hospital, there are additional safety factors to consider:
- Many SickKids patients are under 12 and unable to get vaccinated at this time.
- Many SickKids patients may be more vulnerable to infections including COVID-19 and more contagious variants.
- Even if you are fully vaccinated, you can still contract COVID-19, although you have less of a risk of serious illness and being hospitalized. Also, if you are fully vaccinated you can still spread the virus to others.
- Limited space makes it challenging for everyone to stay physically distanced.
- Wearing masks and other pandemic precautions remain important safety measures for everyone at SickKids.
For these reasons, active screening, family and visitor restrictions, masking and distancing remain in effect. Thank you for your cooperation.
Please note our current family and visitor restrictions:
- For patients coming for tests, procedures, clinic appointments and visits to the Emergency Department, one family caregiver may accompany the patient.
- For the Emergency Department, families may designate two caregivers to take turns being with the child, but only one caregiver may be present at any time.
- For inpatient units (patients staying overnight on a unit), families may designate two family caregivers to be with the child at the same time, but only one can be present overnight (9 p.m. to 6 a.m.).
- Siblings and other visitors are not allowed but some exceptions may apply.
To make it easier for our staff to keep your room clean, it’s important to keep your child’s room as free from clutter as possible. Try to minimize what you bring from home to the hospital. You will be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting your own personal items.
- Your child’s Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card
- Any other health insurance information or drug card
- Your child’s pre-admission form
- Medications your child is taking at home, or a photo of medications (both prescriptions and herbal supplements)
- Medical information, such as an X-ray, CT scan or vaccination record
- Your family doctor’s name and telephone number
- information about drug reactions or food allergies
- Legal custody documents if you are separated or divorced. Bring along any legal papers that show who has custody of your child and who can make decisions about your child’s care. For more information, see our Protocol for Separated Families: Roles, Expectations, and Documentation Required (pdf) with respect to custody and access
- An immigration record, if your child was born outside of Canada
- Special devices or equipment (e.g. hearing aids, glasses, wheeelchair, feeding equipment, etc.)
- Your child’s own clothes, including non-skid footwear and clothes for going home
- A few favourite toys, books, family pictures or a pillow to remind your child of home
- Toiletries, like toothpaste, a toothbrush, brush or comb, shampoo and soap
any important medical aids such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, braces or crutches
- Disposable diapers, diaper bag and a stroller
- Lip balm
- If you are staying with your child, a blanket, pillow and any clothing or personal items for yourself
Remember to put your name on all personal items you bring.
Do not bring
- Latex balloons
- Baby walkers
- Small toys that can be swallowed
- Toys that make sparks
- Food with nuts
- Fresh flowers or plants
- Valuable items
Patients and families who are informed and involved in their care stay safer. We encourage you to talk to us and ask us questions. Your input and expertise is essential, and you may notice things the health-care team doesn’t. Tell us right away if you ever notice a mistake, or see or hear something, that doesn’t make sense or that worries you.
Things to ask your health-care team:
- How can I be involved in my child’s care?
- How can I help my child adjust to being in the hospital?
- What should expect during your child’s treatment and stay in hospital
- Who will be caring for my child?
- Who should I call for information?
Things to tell your health-care team:
- your child’s normal routines and preferences, such as food preferences or feeding routines, sleep routines and bathing preferences
- any fears the staff should be aware of, such as fear of the dark, loud noises, needles
- any special words your child uses to name body parts, important objects or needs
- if your child uses any special aids such as glasses or a hearing aid
- how your child is likely to react in certain situations and effective strategies to help your child cope
- how you would like to be involved in your child’s care, such as bathing or changing diapers
When visiting SickKids, an identification (ID) band will be placed on your child and must be worn on their arm or ankle at all times. To ensure your child is receiving the right care during their stay, the care team will use the ID band to check their name, date of birth and medical record number.
Please note that your child’s specific allergy/allergies will not be printed on the ID band. The black ID band indicates the child has an allergy while the white band indicates there is no allergy.
If your child’s ID band has fallen off or the information is incorrect, be sure to tell your care team. If they are not wearing an ID band or if they have the wrong one, it can lead to mistakes or delays for your child.
Staff will always look at or scan the ID band before providing care to your child. This may involve:
- Asking parents or patients for two patient identifiers, such as the patient's full name and date of birth;
- Scanning a barcode on the ID band to confirm the patient’s identity; or
- Looking at the information on the ID band.
When your child is admitted, our staff will provide you with a Family Identification Badge. For security purposes, always wear the identification badge during your child’s stay.
Depending on the unit that your child is admitted to, they may be in a private or shared room. The type of bed your child will sleep in will depend on their age.
At SickKids, all children 2 years and under will use a crib.
Safe sleep guidelines
SickKids has guidelines to help protect your child’s safety while they sleep. ,As a caregiver, here is what you should know and how you can help keep your child safe:
- Whenever possible, infants should be placed on their back to sleep, unless another position is required for medical reasons
- Always put the side rails up on the bed or crib
- Keep the crib clear of toys and blankets
- We advise you not to sleep in the same bed as your child – it can be dangerous, especially if they are connected to medical equipment
- Do not leave your child in a stroller or car seat to sleep
If you need any help with safe positioning or have questions about our safe sleep guidelines, ask a member of your health-care team.
Learn more about Patient Safety.
In many of our unit rooms, there is a bed in the room for one parent to use. This is free and allows a parent to care for and comfort their child. If the other parent/family members require accommodations, they should make their own arrangements at local hotels. If you need help making sleeping arrangements, speak to your health-care team. See more accommodation options below.
Patients can order from the Mealtrain menu (pdf) during hours of operation. Patients can order following the ordering guidelines on the menu.
Please help your child select meals from the Mealtrain menu you receive from the nurse. Call extension 206622 from the telephone in your child’s room during the following hours to have the meal delivered. It will be delivered within 60 minutes of ordering.
- Breakfast: 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
- Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Dinner: 4:15 to 6:15 p.m.
An employee from our Mealtrain office will work with you to adjust the menu to meet your child’s specific diet and allergies. Please note we take into consideration the child's age when processing the order so that the food and portion sizes are appropriate. Vegetarian, kosher and halal meals are also available.
Never share food or drinks with other children on the unit as certain foods may be harmful.
Is Mealtrain available for caregivers?
Yes, we have a guest tray program. Food can be delivered to caregivers through our guest tray program. Follow these steps:
- Purchase a gift card from the Terrace Cafe (located on the Main Floor, Atrium).
- Pick up a guest tray menu from cashier.
- Once you've decided what you would like, call extension 206622 during Mealtrain times (have your gift card ready).
- Place your order.
- Your tray will be delivered to the nursing station within 60 minutes.
Other food options
Parents can also bring food from one of SickKids’ many food outlets or from outside, which can be stored in the fridge and heated in the microwave that is available on inpatient units. Do not bring any food with nuts.
Meal vouchers are pre-paid certificates that can be used at SickKids to purchase food in the Terrace Café, Subway, Jimmy the Greek, soup it UP, Jugo Juice, U-naru Sushi and Tim Hortons.
If you order food for delivery to the hospital, you must arrange at the time of ordering to pick it up outside the Elizabeth Street entrance. No food-delivery carriers are permitted inside SickKids.
The parent laundry room is on the second floor, room 2315, Black Wing and is open 24 hours a day. This room is only available to inpatient families. The laundry room features two sets of high-density machines, is wheelchair accessible and has ample space for seating and folding laundry. Detergent is provided free of charge to families using the facilities.
The laundry facility remains open but only two people are allowed at a time in keeping with physical distancing protocols in place across SickKids. Please wipe down the handles after use and practice good hand hygiene at all times.
Resources and services available to families
Inpatient room parent beds
In many of our unit rooms, there is a bed in the room for one parent to use. This is free and allows a parent to care for and comfort their child. If the other parent/family members require accommodations, they should make their own arrangements at local hotels.
Ronald McDonald House Toronto
Ronald McDonald House is available for eligible families, with children being treated for critical illness, for accommodation needs. Please visit their website or call 416-977-0458 for more information on eligibility criteria and steps to apply.
Ronald McDonald Family Room
The Ronald McDonald Family Room is located at SickKids and has limited sleeping facilities. Due to limited capacity, access to the Family Room is provided to families who meet specific criteria. Please contact the Manager or Clinical Support Nurse on the child’s unit for more information about access to the Family Room and other resources at SickKids. Visit Family Spaces for more information.
Other nearby accommodations
The following accommodation lists are provided for families to easily find places to stay overnight close to the hospital. One has short term accommodation options (hotels) and the other has longer term accommodation options (furnished apartments). Most of the hotels on the list do provide patient rates, so please bring proof of appointment with you so they may honour them.
*Please note; these are limited lists and there are many other options throughout Toronto. Listed hotels were chosen due to proximity to hospital and discounts provided to families at SickKids.
To find out exact pricing, and to book a reservation, please contact the hotel directly. For more information about Toronto, call 416-392-CITY (2489) or visit www.toronto.ca.
SickKids has Free Wi-Fi for patients, families and guests.
Network name: SickKidsGUEST
Users can connect to SickKidsGUEST from anywhere in SickKids where wireless coverage exists. Currently, this covers most areas in the Atrium (including patient rooms) and the Main Floor of the Black, Burton and Hill wings (including the food court by Tim Hortons). Look for the Free Wi-Fi signs on walls in areas where coverage exists.
Each patient room has a free telephone. You can make local calls, but long-distance calls must be made collect or charged to a telephone card. You can buy telephone cards in The 5 Fifty 5 Shop on the Main Floor of the Atrium or at a machine next to the Information Desk. The Family Centre on the Main Floor has free telephones for parent use.
There are a limited number of video phones available for patients who stay in the hospital for a long time. You can request one from the Child Life Specialist assigned to your unit.
There are free computers with Internet access available for use in the Family Centre, located on the Main Floor of the Black Wing, across from Shoppers Drug Mart.
Smart phones, tablets, laptops and other wireless devices can be used throughout the hospital. If possible, try to keep one metre (about the length of a baseball bat) between your wireless device and medical equipment. They are not allowed in the Critical Care Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nor the Operating Room.
Staff at SickKids are specially trained to work with children and families. When you get to the unit, you will meet some of the nurses who will look after your child. A nurse will ask you about your child's care, his or her habits, and the things that he or she likes and doesn't like.
Once your child is settled in his or her room, feel free to ask the nurse about how you can help with your child's care. You are an important part of your child's health-care team.
Your child's health-care team will include many different health-care providers. There is always one doctor responsible for the care of each patient. Because SickKids is a teaching hospital, your health-care team may also include students.
Offer spiritual and religious care to patients, families and caregivers. Chaplains are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You can reach them by dialling 207500 from the telephone in your room.
Registered nurses who support the nursing staff primarily with clinical issues, and may have responsibilities for daily operations of the unit.
Manage the day-to-day care for your child under the supervision of a Staff Physician. Fellows are licensed doctors who are completing specialized training.
A nurse practitioner (NP) manages the day-to-day care for your child in collaboration with a staff physician/surgeon. NPs are registered nurses (RNs) who have completed further specialized training.
Occupational therapists assist patients with developing the skills required for daily living when their illness or injury prevents them from developing in the expected ways.
Patient experience specialists work with patients and families and provide a safe space for you to provide feedback – including sharing concerns, comments, suggestions, or compliments – about your care experience.
Patient service aides (PSAs) are responsible for non-direct care activities for patients and the unit. They clean rooms, hallways, and utility rooms, and deliver meal trays to patients.
A pharmacist reviews and optimizes the drug therapy your child is receiving.
A physiotherapist assesses your child’s physical skills, such as strength, tone, joint range, posture, balance, endurance, and how they move.
A registered nurse (RN) provides moment-to-moment management of your child’s care. All of our nurses are RNs and will spend more time at your child’s bedside than any other team member.
A resident works closely with other health-care team members to provide care for your child. Residents are licensed doctors in training.
A respiratory therapist monitors your child’s oxygen needs and manages their airway and breathing.
A therapeutic clown uses gentle play, humour, and therapeutic relationships to make the hospital a more fun and enjoyable place for patients and families.
A social worker provides social and emotional support to your child and family. They can connect you to the resources you may need, including financial
A staff physician/surgeon oversees and manages all major decisions about the overall care of your child.
A unit clerk provides non-medical information for the unit. They answer call bells, coordinate communications between external units and coordinate non-medical tasks on the unit.
Medication History Worksheet
It is important for your child’s health-care providers to know what medications your child is taking at home, so that they can make sure your child is getting the right medications while in the hospital. After you fill out the Medication History Worksheet, show it to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
If you have concerns about finances
The Resource Navigation Program, supervised by Social Work, is available to assist families in finding and utilizing resources available to them.
If you would like to make an appointment, or have any questions about resources you may email the Family Resource Coordinator at email@example.com or call 416-813-6805.
Sometimes government programs or service clubs, such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club or Easter Seals, will help families pay for things while their child is in hospital. Before you come to the hospital, ask your local community if it can help.