STAFF at Bendigo hospital's children's ward have walked a fine line for the past six months, trying to keep up a lighthearted atmosphere while keeping to tight COVID-19 restrictions.
The pandemic meant many usual efforts to make the ward a light-hearted, family-filled space were no longer safe.
Challenges started from when children are admitted. Until the results of a COVID-19 test come back clear, they must isolate with a parent.
Only one parent has been allowed to visit children at a time. Siblings have been unable to see each other.
Flowers, balloons and outside food have been off limits.
Nurse unit manager Debbie Forbes said despite restrictions staff had worked hard to keep the ward a cheerful place.
Mrs Forbes said she was proud of the way staff had responded so quickly to meet new COVID-19 requirements
She said the restrictions were hard on families, but they had been very accepting of the situation.
Mrs Forbes said small steps, such a putting phones in isolation rooms and information sheets for parents, had been able to reduce stress for families.
The team have also made an effort to lighten the mood, everything from drawing funny faces on masks, to making sure birthdays came with cake.
Colouring competitions and a weekly visit from a hospital therapy dog have been a lifeline.
Mrs Forbes said her team had adapted quickly to new needs during the past six months, but kept up their responsive and family-centred care.
She thanked parents and families for their understanding and staff for their resilience.
"We've had restrictions placed up on us, but it hasn't stopped us having fun and still trying to really lighten the mood and keep this a bright happy place," she said.
"2020 has been very unusual and we've adapted and we will continue do do so."
Join in Thank You Bendigo week online, using the #Thankyoubendigo, @thankyoubendigo or visiting the event page on Facebook.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.