Services | Day Hospital

Day Hospital

What is the Day Hospital Program?

girl sitting The Day Hospital on 3G is part of the Child and Youth Mental Health Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital. Day Hospital provides treatment, education and support to young people and families whose lives have been affected by mental health issues.

As a client at Day Hospital, we will work closely with you and your family to design a program to meet your goals. Your program will take place on weekdays, so you don’t stay overnight in the hospital.

This program is voluntary. You choose to take part and make a commitment to work with us towards your goals.

View the Introduction to Day Hospital information package.

How to make a referral to Day Hospital

Who will be involved in my care?

A team of health care providers and support staff will work closely with you and your family. Depending on your needs, you may work with:

  • Child and Youth Workers
  • Nurses
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Social Workers
  • Teachers

The 3G Child and Youth Mental Health Inpatient Team also includes other professionals who may become involved in you care:

  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrists

Working with the Day Hospital Team

When you arrive, team members will talk with you and your family to better understand what led to this hospital stay and how we can help.

The Day Hospital team members will act as your ‘coach’. They will work with you throughout your treatment program.young boy possible client

The Day Hospital team is committed to helping you:

  • Understand what led to your referral
  • Identify goals to work towards
  • Learn and apply skills that help you achieve your goals

Understanding what led to your referral

Before starting the Day Hospital Program, you will be expected to attend an orientation to learn about Day Hospital. You will also attend a screening appointment where you will be invited to share important information about yourself with the team. This will help you and the team understand why you were referred to Day Hospital.

Setting goals

Day Hospital staff will help you identify goals to work towards while at Day Hospital.

Your goals will guide your treatment program.

You will also set goals each day for activities that you would like to begin doing again, or to do better (when you are managing your symptoms more effectively).

Learning skills

Day Hospital staff will help you:

  • identify skills that could help prevent and manage difficulties the future
  • learn and practice new skills
  • apply these skills to work towards your goals
  • understand how to apply these skills in your life outside of Day Hospital

How long will I be at Day Hospital?

How long you attend Day Hospital will depend on your goals and your progress. Most clients take part in Day Hospital for about 4 weeks. Some go on to attend a 2-week Return to School Program with us. During their Day Hospital Program, they may continue with some out-patient services in their community.

Day Hospital Program   Return to School Program   Out- Patient Services


What are the Day Hospital hours?

Day Hospital runs Monday to Friday.

Clients usually arrive at 9 am and check out at 2:30 pm, except for Wednesdays which run from 9 am to 1 pm. Day Hospital is open on Professional Development (PD) days and some school holidays. Please see Day Hospital staff for a complete list of closures.

What do I bring to Day Hospital each day?

Please bring:

  • Your Health Card teen girl
  • Any medications that you normally take during the day
  • Clothing that is suitable for walking and outdoor activities

Please do not bring valuable personal items such as money, jewelry or electronics. We are not responsible for lost or stolen items.

If you choose to bring in any of the following items, they must be kept in your locker during the day:

  • communication devices such as cell phones, i-pads and computers
  • cameras and recording devices
  • cigarettes and lighters (no smoking is permitted on hospital grounds)

Checking belongings for safety

When you arrive each day, you will check in and secure your bags in your personal locker. At times, staff may ask to look into bags and other objects to make sure we are maintaining a safe environment.

Is transportation provided?

We do not provide transportation to Day Hospital. This is your responsibility, along with your parents or caregivers. If it is difficult to get to Day Hospital, please talk with us.

If you live in the Hamilton area, some help may be available from your school board. Please note that school board transportation is not available during all PD days, school holidays and summer holidays (July and August).

Where can I get dropped off or park?

If you are coming to and from Day Hospital on your own, you can be picked up and dropped off at the front entrance to the hospital (Main Street). Underground parking is available at McMaster Children’s Hospital.

If you park each day, you can buy a long term pass at a discounted rate from the Parking Office. For more information read Parking at McMaster Children’s Hospital.


Are meals provided?

Lunch and afternoon snacks are provided for all clients in Day Hospital. We will provide a morning snack if you are unable to eat breakfast before coming to Day Hospital.

If you prefer, you can bring your own lunch.

Can I have visitors?

You will attend programs during the day, so there is no opportunity to have visitors. We ask that you do not visit other clients on the inpatient unit.

What if I need to take medication?

Day Hospital staff need to be aware of all medications that you take, especially those you take while at Day Hospital.

On your first day, we will fill out a record of your medications. Please let us know when there are any changes to your medications, so we can keep your record up to date. We do not provide medications. Each day, bring the medications you will need to take. When you arrive and check in, put your medications in your locker. When it is time to take your medication, please do so. If you need to have reminders, please tell staff.

What about my school work?

Our team includes a teacher from the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board. The teacher will work with you and your school to plan how you can continue your school work at your own pace while you are at Day Hospital. We will ask for your permission to:

  • send a letter to your principal explaining why you are not at school, and
  • speak with the school to better understand you and plan your return to schoolgirl client

Who do I call if I am sick, going to be late or unable to come?

If you are going to be late or unable to attend Day Hospital, please call Day Hospital at (905) 521-2100, ext 72859. If you are not feeling well, or have a cough or fever, please call before coming to Day Hospital. The nurse will call you back and help you decide if you should come to Day Hospital or stay home.

What if the weather is bad?

Please use your judgment when travelling to Day Hospital in snowy, slippery or unsafe conditions. If you use school board transportation, please be prepared to be sent home early if the schools close early. If driving conditions get worse through the day, we may need you to go home early for your own safety. If your ride wants to pick you up early, please ask them to call and let us know.

How do you ensure safety at Day Hospital?

Everyone’s safety is important. We need to provide a safe environment, free from:

  • Violence, aggression, self-harm, lying, racism, sexism and/or negative comments about sexual identity. We do not allow clothing or any items that support any of these ideas.
  • Bullying, threatening and/or verbal abuse.
  • Substances including alcohol and drugs (and the supplies related to drug use).

We have a policy that guides our response to theses behaviours if they occur. Please talk to staff right away if you feel unsafe or think you may do something dangerous. Staff will help you learn and use skills that will help.

Can I make my own treatment decisions?

The hospital operates under the Health Care Consent Act. This Act states that a capable patient of any age can consent (agree) to a treatment. The consent of their parent or caregiver is not necessary.

The health care team decides whether a patient is capable. You are capable of making a treatment decision if you can:

  • understand the information relevant to the treatment decision 
  • understand the possible consequences of making the decision or not
  • tell us your decision

If the team finds you incapable of making a specific treatment decision, then someone else (usually your parent or guardian) will be assigned to make the decision. This person is called a “substitute decision maker”.

How is the privacy of personal information protected?

We will protect the privacy of your personal information. We will ask for your permission (consent) before sharing your information with others, or getting the information from others.

  • If you are capable, you have the right to keep your information private from anyone you choose, including your parents.
  • If you are not capable of giving consent, then we will look to a “substitute decision maker” for consent.

We also want your parents/caregivers to feel comfortable sharing their concerns with us. We will keep these concerns within your care team, unless we have consent to share it. There are times, however, when we cannot maintain confidentiality. If we become aware of a situation in which a child/youth needs protection, we are required to report it to the appropriate authorities.

Those situations include:

  • If any child or youth under the age of 16 is being hurt or abused, or at risk of being hurt or abused
  • If anyone is in imminent danger of hurting themselves or someone else
  • If a regulated health professional is or has been sexually inappropriate with someone 
  • If the courts ask for our records

Will I be involved in research?

Research is an important part of the work we do. Through research we learn how to best help children and teens with mental health needs.

While in Day Hospital, we may ask if you would like to be involved in current or future research. Whether or not you wish to take part in research is up to you. Your decision will not affect your care in any way.

What if I need help after hours?

We do not provide emergency care after hours. If you need help when the Day Hospital is closed, you have these options:

  • Call your family doctor
  • Call your local crisis team. In Hamilton, call COAST at 905-972-8338
  • Go to the hospital emergency department
  • Call 911

Taking part in your treatment

Your Day Hospital Program will involve activities that help you to reach your goals. You will be asked to take part in:

  • Treatment groups
  • Functional activity groups
  • Individual and family support

Treatment groups

You may benefit from attending treatment groups such as:

  • Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
  • Goal-Setting
  • Social Skills
  • Stress/Transition Management


  • Healthy Relationships
  • Relaxation
  • Process
  • Health
  • Returning to School


Functional activity groups

You will attend a variety of functional activity groups. In these groups,
you take part in activities that contribute to achieving your goals.

  • For example, one of your goals may be “to be able to do schoolwork while being around other people”. This may be a short-term goal that will help you in achieving your long-term goal of returning to school.

You may be involved in daily activities such as:

  • arts and crafts
  • board games
  • indoor or outdoor physical activity
  • cooking

 Some activities such as walks will involve leaving the hospital and going into the community.