Occupying ‘in-hospitable’ spaces: Parental/ primary-caregiver perceptions of the impact of repeated hospitalisation in children under two years of age

© 2020 McBride-Henry et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The experience of having a child hospitalised is stressful and disrupts families in myriad ways; however, the experiences of parents/caregivers who encounter repeated admissions of a child with acute lower respiratory infections are under-researched. This project aims to explore these experiences, from a qualitative perspective, using the philosophical tenets of reflective lifeworld research. The research included 14 face-to-face interviews with parents, grandparents, or primary caregivers, of children who, whilst under two years of age, were admitted to hospital multiple times with a lower respiratory infection diagnosis. Many of the participants were from Māori or Samoan ethnic backgrounds. The findings of this single site study revealed that these parents/caregivers’ experiences were characterised by feelings of powerlessness, offering descriptions of hospitals as harsh and difficult places to reside, they are ‘in-hospitable’. The findings suggest that repeated hospitalisations created a cycle of stressful experiences that impacted both familial relationships and interactions with society. This study draws attention to this previously obscured population group, and calls health care practitioners and policy advisors to engage differently over issues involving families in similar positions.