Theatre Admissions Unit

TAU reception

Welcome to our Theatre Admissions Unit (TAU) where children having surgery or a procedure that requires a general anaesthetic are admitted.

We also hold orthopaedic pre-admission clinics and bladder scanning here.

We generally see patients between three months and 16 years old.

Nearly all children who go to theatre come to TAU before their operation. Patients who need an inpatient bed will go straight to a ward after theatre. Day cases return to TAU to recover before discharge home.

If your child is coming in for a quick medical procedure or an infusion, this normally takes place in Medical Daycare.

Visitor information

We ask that children coming to TAU are accompanied by a maximum of one adult only. Unfortunately we cannot accommodate any other children unless they are breastfed babies due to limited space and the need to prevent infections being brought in from outside the hospital. If this causes any problems please call TAU on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393.

We also ask you not to eat any food in the waiting area, as children are starved for theatre and this would be unfair to them. We allow children to sip a clear fluid drink (water or diluted cordial) while they are waiting to go to theatre and you are welcome to do the same. However we do not allow hot drinks in the waiting area for safety reasons. A parent/visitor room with a free drinks machine is situated next to the Theatre Admissions Unit. Thank you for your cooperation with this.

Please try not to bring valuables with you. The Trust cannot accept any liability for loss or damage of valuables.

Questions about coming for surgery during coronavirus pandemic

How will you be keeping my child safe from COVID-19?
Nothing is more important to us than the safety of your child and we have made extensive changes to the way we work to keep everyone who comes to us as safe as possible.

This includes additional cleaning, screening and testing patients before admission, social distancing and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). We are also limiting the number of visitors to children, and any staff who are unwell remain home until they have been confirmed not to have COVID-19.

A very small number of patients with COVID-19 infection have been treated at Sheffield Children’s. They are cared for in a separate ward area within the hospital and any procedures are carried out in a dedicated theatre.

Can we just wait until things are back to normal?
Unfortunately, these new processes are likely to be in place for some time and you may have a long wait.

While we appreciate the inconvenience the extra steps place on your family, your child has been identified as a priority for surgery, and an extended delay is not recommended.

Can we skip the test?
If your child has not had the test, unfortunately they will not be able to go ahead with their procedure. This is for the protection of your child, other children and our staff and is in line with national guidance.
What does the test involve?
All children being admitted to the hospital will have COVID-19 nose swabs performed two or three days before a planned admission.

We will telephone to arrange a date for your child to be tested in our drive through testing hub on the hospital site or in clinic if other tests are required.

If you do not have a household car please inform a member of our team and we will make arrangements with you, do not use public transport or taxis to attend.

What are the screening questions?
Before your procedure, you will be asked a series of questions.

  1. Has your child had temperature of more than 37.8 C, within last 7 days?
  2. Has your child had a new-onset of a cough or breathlessness, within the last 7 days?
  3. Has your child had any loss of smell or taste in the last 7 days?
  4. Has your child had any contact with a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive patient in the last 14 days?
  5. Has anyone in the household suffered from COVID-19 symptoms (fever, cough, a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste and/or been self-isolating in the last 14 days?
Why can only one carer attend?
To minimise the risk of infection, and to support social distancing, unfortunately we need to limit the number of people on the hospital site. Only one parent or carer can attend with each child.
Should I wear a mask and gloves?
You should wear a face covering to attend the hospital. If you wear gloves to travel to the hospital, please take them off on arrival and wash your hands.
What should I do if my child or a member of the family gets sick before the appointment?
If someone in your household becomes ill, please contact us as soon as possible. We will assess the situation and make a decision based on your symptoms, how long it is before your surgery and your individual circumstances. You can contact us on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393
How can I entertain my child during shielding?
We appreciate staying at home is difficult for children, especially so soon after an extended period of lockdown. To help we’ve created a 14 day activity pack in partnership with our charity, The Children’s Hospital Charity. You can download it here.

Planning your visit

We know that having an operation can be scary and we want children and their families to feel as confident as possible before coming to hospital. We have created a guide for patients and families to download which explains what happens when a child comes to hospital for an operation.

Free app to help prepare
Download the Little Journey app to help you and your child to prepare for their surgery. Explore interactive photos, watch videos to explain what will happen, and use checklists to help everyone be ready for the day. Available free on iOS and Android

You can also watch a video that talks through the process of coming to the Theatre Admissions Unit, including Widgit symbols and Makaton.

There is lots of extra information for you to read below to find out how we can help you prepare and make your visit as comfortable as possible:

Visiting hospital can be a daunting experience for adults and children alike. We want to reduce any anxieties and help make your visit as stress free as possible.

Many people worry about how to prepare their child for a general anaesthetic and an operation. There are some useful ideas in our anaesthetic area.

Our full time Play Specialist can help distract children by providing activities, toys and games.

We also have a home-from-home room designed to help children and young people relax. This has a sofa, television, DVD player and other activities and is ideal for patients who have a specific need for a quiet space.

For children with additional needs we have a symbol communication scheme (WIDGIT) which can help plan your child’s journey through TAU. This gives them some control and helps to reduce any stress they may be feeling.

My Daycase Operation is a leaflet illustrated with WIDGIT symbols explaining the steps in the journey from arrival at Theatre Admissions Unit to going home again. Flashcards are also included to allow a timeline to be created for individual children.

If you feel this approach would be useful for your child, please contact the TAU play specialist on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393, who will be able to help you prepare your child before coming to hospital and on the day of surgery.

If your child is particularly anxious about coming to hospital, it may be possible to arrange a pre-admission visit to help familiarise them with TAU. Please contact our Play Specialist on 0114 271 7343 / 0114 271 7393 for further information or to arrange a visit.

Chris uses Makaton and Widgit symbols to show us what happens when Rory come to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for an operation.

Click a file to download a translated version of the surgery information leaflet.

Click to hear a Somali translation of the surgery information leaflet.

The BBC filmed an episode of ‘Something Special’ here at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in 2010. The episode shows Justin following the story of a little boy called Ciaran as he comes to TAU, meets some doctors and nurses, has an anaesthetic for an ear operation and enjoys his toast before going home. Mr Tumble also has some adventures around the hospital as he searches for Grandad Tumble, who has been staying on one of the wards. The entire programme is augmented with signing in Makaton.

You can watch the episode for £1.89 on YouTube or it appears on the DVD compilation ‘Something Special – Hello Mr Tumble’, currently on sale in the BBC Shop for £4.75.

You might also be interested in...

Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
Sheffield Children's@SheffChildrens
Explaining PPE to children can be tricky. We've created this video using Makaton signing and Widgit symbols to help… https://t.co/DAL3RlkVmO
To protect our patients we are restricting visitors to one person per patient at Sheffield Children’s at all sites. Please help us to keep your family members safe.See more NHS guidance about COVID-19
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