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Family Illness

When illness affects our family it can be a worrying time.  Parents often become carers for friend and relatives as well as their children.  Explaining to children that a family member is ill is always difficult.  What do you say?  How much do you share?


  1. The first step is to have a plan
  2. Find out as much as you can - be clear on whether it is a short or long-term illness or whether it will be life-limiting.
  3. Tap into local resources (see the information below)
  4. Use age appropriate language (REMEMBER: A child's emotional age may be lower than their actual age)


If the illness is terminal, please see our pages on grief an loss.


For support and resources visit the Local Healthwatch website for more information.  You will find links to local as well as national charities.



You can get advice from the council's dementia advisor by visiting this website:


Local dementia services are run out from Community Mental Health Team for Older Adults but there are some useful webpages: 



Multiple Sclerosis

A useful booklet on talking to children about MS can be found on the MS Trust website.

The MS Society also has useful pages on how to explain this illness to children.

The National MS Society is an American organisation but also has some useful resources inclusing a children's newsletter.

Going into hospital

If a child is going into hospital there are several online resources to help you plan and reduce fears and anxieties.

  • Plan what you are going to say
  • Get advice from your health professionals - the hospital may have websites or leaflets for you to use
  • Prepare for a return home - food in the freezer and treats

Online resources

  • The NHS website has a plan on a page on their website
  • Great Ormond Street has a webpage dedicated to hospital visits
  • The Evelena ward at Guys and St Thomas's Hospital London also have dedicated resources

Keeping older relatives safe and well

If you are worried about an older relative, there are a number of resources and support offers to consider. 

Caring responsibilities

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for another person who cannot cope without support in their day-to-day life.  Anyone can become a carer at any time. 


Visit the Public Health Portal Carers' page for information and links to local, national and council support offers.  This includes a link for Young Carers.