Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to conference this year. Luckily, thanks to social media, I’m able to take a peek at all the fun going on a this year’s Child Life Conference by searching #CLCConf15 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Make sure & follow along! & while you’re at it, follow me too!
The other day I had a patient (10yo) come into the ER with her mother and younger sister (6yo) via ambulance for a laceration. The two girls were doing backflips into the pool and well, one of those backflips didn’t end so well. I went into the room and the patient seemed to be coping very well. I provided a procedural teaching for the patient, sibling, and mother, answered her questions, and developed a coping strategy (counting to 10 and taking deep breaths). I also set up the girls with a movie and some coloring sheets to pass the time before the procedure started. When the time came, I was ready to be present for the procedure but noticed that mom was helping her daughter cope very well and that the person that really needed support was the little sister! She was sitting on a chair in the corner covering her ears and shutting her eyes as tightly as she could (the doctor was still setting up her supplies). I asked if it would be alright if little sister and I waited outside and both mom and little sister agreed.
She and I sat at a nearby table outside of sister’s room and made her a Get Well card. It was at this time that little sister started to explain to me how scary it was when her sister hit her head at the pool, how scary the ambulance ride was because they were going really fast, and how she’s scared about what they’re doing to her sister. I addressed all of these fears with little sister, all the while validating her feelings and helping her cope with the scary Sunday she was experiencing. I gave her the opportunity to tell me her side of the story of what happened at the pool. I was able to teach her a little bit about the ambulance and how they help get people to the hospital quickly and safely. And, I did my procedure teaching again, more slowly, and made sure she understood and felt comfortable with the steps. I was even able to show her my Mermaid ( http://adventuresinchildlife.com/2014/07/14/iv-sutures-prep-doll/ ) so that she could see & feel what the sutures would feel like afterwards. In the end she was more relaxed, understanding, and most importantly confident & comfortable to walk back into her sister’s room when the procedure was over.
It’s clear that in this scenario little sister needed support from her Child Life Specialist! It’s easy to develop a “tunnel vision” when working with patients and addressing their needs and concerns but it’s important to always remember to be alert and aware of family members and how they’re coping, too!
This month’s Favorite Find is a kickstarter campaign named Princessability that will create fairy tales where the leading roles are filled by princesses with a disability, cancer, or illness. Books will be available in English & in Spanish. Spread the word!
I really love the “germ” characters from Oriental Trading. This week I put these together to have out in the waiting room. Cute & easy way to promote hand washing & have something to do while the patients wait.
Foam shapes: http://www.orientaltrading.com/germ-shapes-a2-13628710.fltr?Ntt=germs
As a 1 person program working solely in the ER, here’s how I’m celebrating!
- Implementation of a Child Life newsletter for the nurses lounge.
- A Child Life trivia quiz! Everyone fills out a sheet & returns it to me. I will pick random sheets to “grade” and the first person I pick that gets all the answers correct, wins!
- A baby photo contest – staff bring in a baby photo and it goes up on our board. First person to guess everyone correctly wins.
- Child life table teepees for the waiting room.
- Child life coloring sheets for the waiting room.
- A day of having food catered for the department (THANK YOU upper management!)
- A Child life “emergency kit” for the doctors lounge.
- Child life month bulletin board.
- Guest spot on our PEDS ED monthly newsletter!
- Bubble rounds! Child life assistant and I will randomly go room to room and blow bubbles for the patients to celebrate Child Life month – creatively thought up by one of my Child Life Assistants – (funny with the teen patients & a great way to raise awareness!)
Over the weekend I volunteered at Camp Erin, a bereavement camp for children and teens that have experienced the loss of a loved one. Because I am a CCLS, I was a “clinical point person” at the camp – someone that the children in my group could turn to if they were feeling overwhelmed or wanted to discuss some deeper emotions that they were feeling. My group consisted of nine 6-8 year old girls (yes, VERY young)! We did art therapy, music therapy, and even pet therapy! All with the goals of identifying emotions and learning about our feelings as well as doing nice things for our loved one. One important thing that I noticed this camp provided was the opportunity for these children to realize that other kids go through this too & that they are not alone in their grief. It was so heartwarming to see the girls comfort eachother and really connect with the activities that we were doing.
Camp Erin was an amazing experience and I definitely encourage all of you Child Life-ers out there to volunteer! If not as a clinical point person, then as a Cabin Big Buddy! It’s great experience (& will look so impressive on any application/resume)!
At the end of this month I will be spending the weekend volunteering at Camp Erin – a bereavement camp for children. This past weekend we had a pre-camp pizza party to meet all of the campers, their families, and help reduce some of that pre-camp anxiety that usually builds in the weeks before sleep-away camp. We had a lot of fun at our pizza party – we played games, got to know each other, had pizza (of course), and sang songs while the veteran volunteers spoke to the parents/caregivers about specifics about camp. When speaking to one of the 6-year-old girls in my group, she told me all about this Elmo video she watched that “explained about when people die and that it’s okay to cry”. This Elmo grief video rang a bell, but I decided to do some more research when I got home. Turns out, Sesame Street offers their resources for free to download online, in English and Spanish! This is such an incredible resource to know about when dealing with bereavement and grief with children. Thank you, chatty little 6-year-old!
Camp Erin : https://www.moyerfoundation.org/programs/camperin.aspx
Elmo Grief Resources: http://www.sesamestreet.org/parents/topicsandactivities/toolkits/tlc/griefresources
Image Source: http://www.sesamestreet.org/muppets/elmo