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Topics - Patient and Family Resource Centers

Family Resource Center,
Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center

Rounded hospital lobby iwth upholstered couches.

Seattle, Washington

Beginning in 1979, Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle had a small resource room. The first expansion occurred in 1985. With its 2001 addition, adding approximately 3100 square feet, the Family Resource Center includes the original resource center, a chapel, family bathrooms/showers, lockers, ICU parent sleeping rooms, vending machines, a laundry, a family room, and an outdoor patio.

The center is staffed Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The number of visits to the center more then doubled when hours were extended to weekends and evenings. When it is not staffed, all parts of the resource center are available to families except the book and pamphlet collections.

Staffing and Volunteers. The Director of Patient and Family Support Services, a registered nurse, leads the Family Resource Center team. Two program assistants (1.2 FTEs), a health educator (1 FTE) and volunteers staff the center. An administrative program assistant (.7 FTE) and the family centered care coordinator (1 FTE) provide additional support. Endowment funds support a family support coordinator who coordinates parent-to-parent support and facilitates the Resource Center coffee hours. The center currently has approximately ten volunteers in the center and an additional five who operate the circulating coffee cart and provide support to families in the ICU waiting areas. Volunteer backgrounds are varied and include retirees, parents, and students. Volunteers are increasingly being used to provide hospitality and family support.

Advisory Committees and Interdepartmental Links. In partnership with the Center for Children with Special Needs and Chronic Health Conditions, the Family Resource Center developed the Family Consultant, which includes a database of 150 families who are willing to serve as expert advisors for hospital services or programs. These parents serve as members of advisory boards, task forces, design committees and as co-trainers, teachers, program evaluators, mentors for other families, speakers, and reviewers.

The Children's Hospital’s Family Advisory Council members provide ongoing feedback to the center and participate in interviewing potential employees. The hospital's family-centered steering committee is chaired by the director of the Family Resource Center and includes members of the Family Advisory Council and resource center staff.

Children's Resource Line operates daily from 7 a. m. to 11 p.m. to offer free, confidential nurse consultations for families within the for community. Nurse telephone consultations provide information on child/teen health and child raising as well as referrals to Children's physicians and community resources. The Family Resource Center partners with this service to mail out written materials to supplement call content. Children's has a Patient Education Steering Committee with close ties to the Resource Center. Each patient care unit and clinic group has a patient education liaison who collaborates with the Resource Center in the distribution of educational materials to patients and families.

The Collection and Services. The Family Resource Center provides information and support for patients, families, staff, and the community related to hospitalization, child health, parenting, and resources at the hospital and in the community. The collection of over 1000 books and 1500 pamphlets and other written and computerized reference materials includes titles on specific illnesses and conditions, parenting, growth and development, grief and loss, nutrition, and safety. The collection also includes books for children. Families can check out two books for two weeks at a time. Families are also referred to the medical library for help with literature searches.

Clinet enjoying a seated back massageman at a computerfamily Coffee hour flyer
Lots of family-centered services are available at the Family Resource Center.

The Children's Health and Patient Education Database, online at, provides a complete listing of the resource center’s patient education materials, including scripts from Children's Health Information Line which provides recorded answers on 275 parenting and child health topics 24 hours a day.

Other Services. In addition to the library collection, Resource Center services include the following:

  • Free shoulder and neck massage for parents and family members through an arrangement with local massage school and volunteer massage therapists.
  • Computers with email, Internet access, and printers.
  • Phones, fax, and modem lines.
  • A vending area with microwave and free hot beverages and a coffee/information cart that circulates to the patient care units.
  • Lockers and showers.
  • Laundry room.
  • Sleeping rooms for Intensive Care Unit parents.
  • Quiet spaces to wait and relax, with light reading materials and a rooftop outdoor patio.
  • Weekly Family Coffee Hours.
  • Information about community resources including support groups, parenting classes, and referrals to community agencies.
  • Information about Children's and the Seattle area including local activities for families, accommodations, and transportation.

Family Highlights, an in-house newsletter with companion bulletin boards on patient care units, that features the services available for families and answers frequently asked questions.

Cover of issue of Good Growing

Community Education and Outreach. The center's collection of resource materials is extended to the community through the hospital's health education programming of community education classes, events and outreach programs. 60,000 copies of Good Growing, a community newsletter, are sent out four times a year with information on services at the center.

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