Child Life provides normal life experiences for kids in the hospital.
There’s no place like CHOC for children and their families and one big reason for that is our outstanding child life team and its innovative programs.
The ultimate goal of child life at the Cancer Institute is to make children as comfortable as possible before, during and after hospitalization. Since the physical limitations and emotional stress of cancer can disrupt a patient’s normal social growth and development, our child life specialists strive to provide children with as many normal life experiences as possible during treatment. They act as advocates for the patient and family, and provide bereavement support in case there is a loss.
Child life specialists work closely with other members of the team such as doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers in promoting patient- and family-centered care. Our child life specialists help decrease anxiety surrounding diagnosis, treatment and hospitalization by using play and explaining treatment and procedures in language appropriate to the patient’s age and development. They are experts in pain management techniques that do not use medications. They also teach other family members the coping skills they may need to care for a child with cancer and work closely with siblings to help them address their concerns.
Additionally, our child life specialists help make taking medicine easier. They have tips for disguising the taste of medicine and can help children practice swallowing pills. Patients at the Cancer Institute truly benefit from child life services. They represent “safe” staff members and children know that our child life specialists are there for fun and comfort – not for “treatment” or “procedures.” They are a crucial part of the health care team. Child life offers a variety of services and programs designed to help patients and their families cope with their cancer.
- Pet Therapy Pet therapy is available two times per week for both inpatients and outpatients at the Cancer Institute. Specially trained dogs who have been meticulously bathed, groomed and certified through the Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International visit children while they receive their chemotherapy treatments or at the bedside. These dogs bring smiles to the faces of our patients, allowing them to take delight in the joys of a pet during a very difficult time in their lives. The pet therapy dogs can bring a sense of normalcy to patients with a long hospital stay, help them cope during a procedure or provide encouragement for patients who need to get out of bed.
- Music Therapy Available Monday through Friday, our music therapist works with patients of all ages and has taught children how to play several instruments, including drums and guitar. He also works with patients record their own music on CDs.
- Bedside Reader Two days per week, a CHOC volunteer reads to young children at their bedside. The stories provide children a temporary escape, while providing caregivers the opportunity to step away and refresh themselves.
- Bedside Artist Two days per week, a CHOC volunteer visits patients at the bedside in order to provide them with art activities. This is a great opportunity for patients to be creative.
- Geek Squad Technology Lending Program The ability to connect with others and information is helpful for many older patients during hospitalization. The child life department’s technology lending program offers cameras, camcorders, game systems, webcams, AC chargers and laptops for check-out to patients and their family members while at the hospital. Patients and families are welcome to bring their own laptops. If needed, an ethernet cord can be provided for use at the hospital.