Soon after her birth, her daughter was hospitalized due to illness.

Everyone at the hospital is working really hard, and the hard part is this child, so as a parent, I can't afford to make a weak sound—but my parents say that they felt the harshness of going to the "battlefield" on days when they didn't have enough privacy and couldn't eat or sleep.

What is the reality of "accompanying hospitalization"? What are the moves to improve the environment?

We summarized the movements of the affected parties, medical sites, and support groups.

"Escort is mandatory."

The photo at the beginning is of Shika, the second daughter of Takako Roki, who lives in Tokyo. I was hospitalized immediately after birth for treatment of kidney failure, and at the hospital where I was transferred for treatment, I was asked to stay overnight and be hospitalized.

The hospital explained that "escorts are essential" for small children because there are few people at night and nursing is difficult.

The first thing that came to his mind was his eldest daughter, who was five years old at the time.

"If I canned in the hospital 5 hours a day, what should my eldest daughter do?"

she recalls, and her mind went blank.

When the "accompanying hospitalization" began, she was busy caring for Shika day and night, and she was often unable to sleep or eat satisfactorily.

Mr. Nobuki, who said, "Everyone at the hospital worked very hard," was not convinced by one thing about the system.

I had to submit an application every two weeks to be accompanied even though the hospital asked me to.

Application for escort

"There is a psychological difference between being premised on the premise that you are doing the same thing and understanding it, and being allowed to do it in the form that we asked you to do even though you are actually being asked to do it. It was very tough."

In addition, Ms. Nobuki, who was asked by the hospital to accompany her, believes that improvements are needed, such as allowing people to choose "accompanying hospitalization" according to their wishes.

"If the family life becomes unsustainable, such as balancing work with work, it will be difficult to treat the child, so I want you to be able to choose whether to accompany them according to your wishes."

The parents' environment is the reality.

The NPO Keep Mama Smiling conducted an online questionnaire survey of people who had accompanied sick children in hospitals from November to December last year, and received responses from approximately 11,12 people.

The results of the main items were as follows:

Whether or not he wanted to be hospitalized with an escort "whether he wanted to be accompanied or not
" ... 3600.70%,
"hoped" ... 8.27%

▽ "Was the hospital requesting an escort?"

"Requested" ... 79.1%
"unsolicited"... 20.9% said that "escort is mandatory" and nearly 7%

"requested to be accompanied", indicating that there are many parents who accompany them in response to requests from medical institutions regardless of their wishes.

Time spent caring for a child while accompanying (per day)

"21~24 hours"... 25.5%
"Less than 15~18 hours"... 12.7%
"Less than 12~15 hours"... A total of 11.7% answered "12 hours or more" by 61.3%.

▽ In addition to personal care such as "care provided while accompanying the child"
and "assistance with meals", there were responses that they were responsible for various care, including medical care, such as "suction and inhalation", "vital check", "installation of ECG monitor", and "gastric tube replacement".

Some of these types of care are in principle positioned as "medical care" that nurses and others do, suggesting that parents are compensating for the shortage of manpower in the field.

▽ "Sources of meals while accompanying hospital" "Mainly convenience stores and shops in the hospital"
... 65.1%
"Mainly convenience stores, shops, and supermarkets outside the hospital" ... 8.5%
"Meals provided mainly by hospitals to attendants"... 5.6%

of hospitals provide meals to accompanying parents, although some hospitals have implemented this program, it can be seen that they are still small.

"Sleeping in a hospital room"

"I slept in the same bed as my child"... 51.8%
"cots rented from hospitals"... 32.9%
"Sofa, chair" ... 6.4%

of respondents said that they could not sleep well due to the sound of alarms on monitors, nurses making rounds, and crying children in the same hospital room.

In addition, 51.3% of respondents answered that they had been sick while accompanying them.

Calls from doctors to improve the environment

There are also calls from the medical field to improve the environment.

At Saga University Hospital in Saga City, parents accompanying hospitalized children are given monthly sets containing canned curry and soup provided by support groups, as well as hygiene products, and nurses delivered them to their rooms on this day as well.

The mother who received the support said, "If you stay in the hospital for a long time, you will have trouble with your own food and it will be a burden financially, so I am very happy about this kind of support.

The hospital rents out cots for families to sleep for a fee, and nursery teachers temporarily take care of children to reduce the burden on parents.

On the other hand, it is difficult for hospitals to drastically change the environment for nurses and attendants, and the system itself needs to be improved.

"With the current system, it doesn't exist."

Dr. Muneaki Matsuo, a pediatrician, points out that "although family members are indispensable for hospitalized children, the problem is that they do not exist under the current system."

On top of that, he said, "It is necessary to change the hospital environment, such as providing meals to accompanying family members, but on the other hand, there are families who cannot accompany them, so I would like the government to consider measures to establish a system that allows such children to be hospitalized with peace of mind without being accompanied."

Request to the government to establish a study group for improvement

Based on the results of the survey, the NPO Keep Mama Smiling requested the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Children and Family Agency to work on improving the living environment of parents.

The petition calls for ▽ cooperation between the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Children and Family Agency to cooperate with medical institutions and NPOs to support the lives of parents and provide financial support, and ▽ to establish a study group to improve the environment for accompanying parents at the time of hospitalization.

Keiko Yamamoto, director of the Maternal and Child Health Division of the Children and Family Agency, who received the request, said, "We would like to carefully confirm the contents of the survey and requests, and consider what can be done in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Children and Family Agency."

Yuki Mitsuhara, president of the NPO Keep Mama Smiling, who held a press conference after the request, said, "The environment for parents who attend hospitalized children is harsh and severe, and I hope that the government will take the lead and hospitals and our support groups will work together to create an environment where parents can watch over their children with peace of mind."

Current situation overseas

On the other hand, based on their experience as an attendant at an overseas hospital, some people point out that it is necessary to create an environment where parents can accompany their children with peace of mind in order to improve their child's hospitalization life.

Maya Sato lost her eldest son, Reion, at the age of 5 to neuroblastoma, one of the childhood cancers, in May last year.

"When I look at the photos like this, it reminds me of yesterday," says

Reien, who accompanied him to several hospitals in Japan, as well as in Belgium and France. In French hospitals, parents were provided with free breakfast, lunch and dinner could be ordered as needed, and there were beds for parents in their rooms.

In addition, there was an environment in the hospital where parents could receive massages and counseling, so that they could rest and change their mood away from their children.

"I was grateful for the consideration that they thought about and took care of our health and diet together, and it was a culture shock."

On top of that, I believe that creating an environment where parents can support their children with a smile is important in order to improve the medical treatment environment for their children. Mr. Sato explained the reason for this, remembering the words that Reon once said.

"In the beginning, when my son said, 'Smile mommy,' and when he said, 'Don't look sad and smile more,' I thought I shouldn't. I didn't think it was a case of sinking. So when I came to this hospital room, when I saw my son, I always wanted to smile as much as possible and stay healthy. I think it would definitely be better to have an environment that can support that. That person is relieved to see that the child and guardian are relaxed and laughing. I think that's what my son said to me, 'Laugh.'"