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We can all think of a friend or family member struck by a serious illness out of the blue.  All focus is diverted to dealing with the health crisis. Children often have no choice but to fall in line with the new circumstances, while adults in the family focus on the logistics of medical visits, trips, bills, consultations and many other issues.

Unfortunately, this is the reality that many face, and the new schedule imposed by circumstances is often disruptive to normal family life, forcing families to make extraordinary arrangements to have children looked after by their friends and extended family.

Children are usually very resilient and tend to cope with change quite well. However, the changes in their family circumstances usually leave a negative impact on their educational performance, which frequently manifests itself in the shape of psychological issues.  Some children harbour feelings of guilt, fear and anger, feeling that their ‘naughty’ behaviour may have caused the person’s illness. Others experience feelings of abandonment, having been the centre of attention in their family until the point that the health crisis occurred.

This conference will raise awareness about the psychosocial wellbeing of the ‘healthy’ child in the family and provide practical tips to professionals working with these children.  We will explore the perception of illness/loss through the eyes of the ‘healthy’ child. We will discuss the significance of play especially with young children and the importance of liaison between different professionals and caregivers for the best interest of the child.  We shall also be exploring ways by which non-formal education deals with young people having a family member disrupted by an illness.

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