A care by parent scheme was established in the children's department of a university hospital. It was seen as the natural extension of the increased involvement of parents in the care of their children in hospital. A structured observational study was carried out to monitor its effect on the lives of child patients. Children in the scheme spent far less time awake alone, cried less, and slept less than those nursed unaccompanied. They had far more social interaction with a smaller number of adults, most of their contacts being with family members rather than hospital staff. Children with a resident parent but outside the scheme were generally in an intermediate position on these factors.
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