Hospital experiences can be extremely stressful to children and their families. Interruption of normal life, physical limitations, medical procedures, and family separation all have the potential to interfere with a child's response to medical treatment. Hospitalized children are often fearful and do not understand what may be required for their treatment. The Child Life Program at McLeod Children's Hospital seeks to establish trust and provide children and their families a positive, informative and comfortable hospital stay. This is done through many services – including the Child Life Specialist, the Volunteer Coordinator, and the McLeod Child Life Activity Center.
The Child Life Specialist
The McLeod Child Life Specialist is specially trained and specifically certified to help ensure the best possible hospital experience possible for both the child and family. As an advocate for the child, she provides emotional support and acts as a liaison between the family and medical team. The Child Life Specialist develops individualized treatment plans based on an assessment of the child's development, temperament, and coping styles. Through Medical Play Therapy, the Child Life Specialist introduces and prepares a child for medical procedures. Medical Play Therapy reduces anxiety and stress in a child and gives them the opportunity to play with medical equipment in a non-threatening manner. The Child Life Specialist uses Diversion Therapy to distract the child from pain using bubbles, music, singing, I-spy books, talking, and videos. She also teaches families stress reduction techniques, provides car seat safety information, and gives tours of the Children's Hospital.
The Volunteer Coordinator
The McLeod Volunteer Coordinator coordinates, trains, and supervises volunteers so they can also help to provide comfort and fun for the patients. Volunteers help throughout the Children's Hospital, working in the Newborn Nursery, playing with patients in the Child Life Activity Center, and supporting other activities.
The Child Life Activity Center
One of the most important aspects of the Child Life Program is the opportunity for play. The Child Life Activity Center provides age-appropriate activities for children to learn, be creative, have family time, and interact with other children. The Child Life Activity Center is introduced to the patients as a safe room during their hospital stay, and the activities and play help with the child's recovery by providing therapy and comfort. Funded through community support to the McLeod Foundation, the Child Life Activity Center is also a safe haven, as physicians and nurses do not interfere with play time. Through family centered care, the Child Life Activity Program helps patients and their families in the PICU, NICU, and ER and anywhere children might be. To find out more about the Child Life Program at McLeod, please call (843) 777-8542.