• child;
  • hospitalized;
  • professional-family relationships;
  • patient relatives;
  • nursing work;
  • parents

Children are the recognized patients when admitted to hospital but their parents can also present demands for care by nurses. Involvement in care can be stressful for parents, particularly when children are required to undergo unpleasant procedures. Parents turn to their families for support in the first instance but some also look for care from nurses. Consequently parents can present a need for care of themselves to nurses whose primary patients are children. In this paper the experiences of a group of parents who became co-clients of nurses are considered along with the views of nurses working on the same ward. The discussion arises out of a larger study of the experiences of the parents of children admitted to a surgical ward in a children's hospital. The principal purpose of the study was to examine parents' and nurses' perceptions of their participation in the care of hospitalized children. The work of caring for parents is found to be ad hoc and unpredictable. The implications of the study for practice and policy are considered.