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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 Cancer Support Network webpage for more information.  You will find links to local as well as national charities.



You can get advice from the council's Community Mental Health Team for Older Adults dementia support pages.  The page covers a wide variety of things including:
  • dementia facts
  • support groups
  • living with dementia
  • being a carer and how to get a carer's assessment



Feeling lonely can affect anyone of any age.  Not having access to social networks when we would like them is a major factor in poor health and wellbeing. Visit the Social Prescribing pages for more information and help.


Multiple Sclerosis

A useful resource 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 including 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 anxious thoughts and worries.

  • Plan what you are going to say (see websites below for guidance)
  • 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 Evelina 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.