Emerging Minds

Parental chronic physical illness and child-aware practice

About the course

This course is based on the evidence and understanding that parental chronic physical illness can have a direct impact on children’s social and emotional wellbeing. This is together with the understanding that health professionals working with parents experiencing chronic physical illness are well placed to hold preventative conversations to help reduce the negative impacts for children.

Throughout this course, you will consider how the parent’s illness may impact their physical and mental health, parenting and family functioning. And what effect these impacts may have on their children’s wellbeing.

The course uses a child-aware practice approach which invites practitioners to make talking about parenting, children, and family life an integral part of routine healthcare.

You will be introduced to the PERCS Conversation Guide, which is a short, semi-structured and evidence-informed psychosocial discussion tool developed from consultations with practitioners and parents. It will help you facilitate conversations with patients or clients who are parents about the impact of adult physical illness on children’s lives. It is a preventative and proactive approach that encourages shared understanding and decision making with parents.


Working with Parents

This module explores why having preventative conversations with parents experiencing chronic physical illness about their children’s social and emotional wellbeing is beneficial. It introduces the PERCS Conversation Guide and looks at ways it can help you have these conversations within your usual practice. It features a fictional demonstration between a health professional and a parent.

The PERCS Domains in a Child’s Life

Module two explores the five PERCS domains in a child’s life. It will expand your confidence in applying the PERCS domains and working with patients or clients who are parents. It features a fictional demonstration between a health professional and a parent, where the health professional supports the parent to talk to her children about her illness.

Who is this course for?

This course has been designed for health professionals and practitioners who work in adult services for people experiencing chronic physical illness.

Learning aims/outcomes

Following the completion of this course you should be able to:

  • Describe how a parent’s chronic physical illness may impact on their children’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Understand the value of engaging patients or clients who are parents about their parenting and children.
  • Identify entry points to engage in preventative conversations with parents about their children's social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Incorporate routine enquiry about children’s social and emotional wellbeing as part of appointments with parents.
  • Apply the six principles for engaging parents in conversations about parental illness and children’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Use the PERCS Conversation Guide, where there is a need, to have conversations with parents about children's social and emotional wellbeing.


It is estimated that this course will take you four hours to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked, and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


This course features videos of fictional parents and family scenarios. As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later. 
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy. 
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course. 

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


In this course and related resources, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

A chronic physical illness is a health condition or disease that is persistent and long-lasting and generally needs long-term and complex care.

The term unwell includes the experience of symptoms (e.g. pain), side-effects (e.g. fatigue) and/or psychosocial impacts (e.g. low mood) of an illness or condition, and/or its treatment.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. Social and emotional wellbeing incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths. Social and emotional wellbeing is integral to child development.1


This course draws on the latest research, clinical insights, and the lived experience of our child and family partners. We’d like to thank the professionals and families who played an integral role in shaping this course, generously offering their time, wisdom and unique perspectives.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: Development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW

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