Child life month 2018

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As always, this child life month my team and I had tons of fun providing child life magic to our patients, families, staff, and our own department! Here’s a list of some of the things we did:

  • Set up a display cabinet in our hospital’s main hallway with photos printed on canvases depicting what child life is all about
  • Created fun events for patients and families through out the month including a kick off carnival, teddy bear clinic, and child life birthday party.
  • Went to each unit with a spin the wheel game for staff. Staff were encouraged to participate and answer child life trivia correctly. If they did, they were given a distraction badge buddy and bubbles and entered into a raffle for a small duffel bag filled with child life goodies!
  • Engaged our own department in a “secret santa” type of activity through out the month where we left our buddy small clues and gifts throughout the month of March ending in a big reveal (shout out to Hayley for coming up with this!)
  • Team lunch provided by our amazingly supportive and inspiring leadership team

What are some fun things your team did for child life month?

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Distraction

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During my internship, my supervisors would often challenge me to provide distraction for patients without using an iPad. I’d often shrug it off because, in the rush of getting called for a procedure while they’re already setting up, the patient already crying and tension rising, the iPad 9 times out of 10 would work like magic.

I love iPads for distraction! They’re big so they cover the view of the procedure. They’re interactive which promotes distraction, kids use them at home which promotes normalization, you can easily sanitize them, c’mon! Well, fast forward 1 month after my internship when I began my first job as a CCLS in the emergency department, not only did I not have an iPad, but I wasn’t approved to use an iPad even if I had one!

I spent 10 months working in the ER without an iPad and boy, did I become creative in my distraction interventions! It was during this time that I saw the real magic of child life. You guys, I once distracted a 2-year-old for an IV start with them laying on the bed alone by reading a sound book! Honest! I have witnesses! No one in the room, including the 2-year-old patient, could believe the #childlifemagic that happened that night.

Don’t get me wrong, as soon as I got approval for an iPad I surely put it to good use, but the tricks I learned during those 10 months of being iPad-less in a busy ER gave me confidence. I remember a great CCLS once told me that to be a CCLS you do not need anything but the head on your shoulders; “bubbles, toys, and gadgets help of course, but the only thing you need to be a CCLS is your knowledge and understanding of child life theory and practice.”  In hindsight, I now understand that this is very true! All that work and practice sans iPad gave me the confidence to be a CCLS that is called into a room with nothing but a dry erase marker in her pocket and doesn’t even think twice about going in.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite distraction itemsMusthaveDISTRACTIONitems.jpg

  1. Bubbles – classic
  2. Sound Books – great for toddlers/preschoolers
  3. Buzzy Bee Distraction Cards – I got a pack of these in my welcome bag at the 2017 FACLP conference. I use it all the time – definitely must have!
  4. Melissa & Doug Reusable Stickers – These are puffy too so no need to worry about them ripping
  5. Light Spinner – classic
  6. Find It – one of my forever favorites
  7. I Spy books – love these which you can find for different age groups in TONS of different character themes
  8. Bright Beats – coolest toy in the toy box! Very interactive, colorful, and musical. Great for toddlers

For a full list of my must-have distraction items, follow the link to my Amazon wishlist: http://a.co/6gscxMo

Again, I love using my iPad as a tool for distraction. It’s an incredible resource and has kept my patients calm and coping during difficult procedures. I have tons of go to apps but as for my favorite iPad app right now I’d definitely have to say the Spellbound app!

I was able to get my hands on a couple of augmented reality cards made by Spellbound. I love technology and was a huge fan of Pokémon Go so I was definitely looking forward to using Spellbound with my patients.

First & foremost, cards are made of wipeable material so you can sanitize in between use; YAY! Set up for the app was very easy – just download the app, enter your email, allow camera access, & you’re ready to see into another world.

My demo came with three cards and kept me and my patient completely distracted throughout an entire IV start and a little while afterward. I can definitely see how having a whole deck of these cards can lead to very distracted patients.

For more information on Spellbound AR follow the link to their website: http://spellboundar.com/

 

What are some of your favorite distraction tools?

Tips for students

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It’s important to show potential employers that while you may still be learning to walk the walk, you can certainly talk the talk! Child life comes with a special set of vocabulary words that every CCLS uses in their day to day work. This not only will make you sound more professional overall, but it will show your interviewer you’re dedicated to the field of child life. Read over the ACLP website and jot down some child life vocabulary words that you can use in your next interview. Here are a couple to get you started:

  • Coping skills
  • Assessment
  • Psychosocial support
  • Psychosocial stressors
  • Psychosocial needs
  • Developmentally appropriate
  • Age appropriate
  • Address fears
  • Interventions
  • Normalization
  • Compliance
  • Build rapport
  • Sensory stimulation
  • Impact of hospitalization
  • Recreational activities

Can you think of any other child life vocab words?

Medical Play

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I’m all about cool toys to promote medical play with my patients. I recently found Pandora’s box of playmobile medical play sets and needless to say, I’m obsessed! I got the “Hospital Play Box” which resembles an OR to use on my surgery/ortho unit. They also have a bunch more like an X-ray room, pediatrician, and hospital.

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Want to see other medical play toys I’m using? Check out my Amazon list!

Medical Play
Link: http://a.co/0iAbvOO

Increasing Compliance

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There are many times that I am asked to help a patient to increase compliance with their plan of care. This can be anything from helping a patient take their medicine to helping them walk around the unit post-op to simply helping them breathe after a breathing treatment. These are the times that creativity really kicks in and I need to have more than one trick up my sleeve. Here are some of the tools I use to help increase compliance:

 

  • Incentive charts – there are tons you can find online like this one that I found on Amazon. Lots of times a sticker chart alone is enough to help a patient increase compliance with their plan of care. Never underestimate the power of stickers, people!71KFeBlCzQL._SL1000_
  • Increase ambulation – this one is always tricky and requires a lot of back up plans. Depending on the age, there are various floor toys that require kids to walk, stand, or move around to engage in play. Again this will all depend on the specific patient and his/her likes, interests, and pain level when needing to walk. Think outside of the box when selecting toys; for example, I once had a teen soccer player who was reluctant to walk after his surgery. I brought out a soccer ball during one of his laps aro614sLwN22hL._SX355_und the unit and he lit up with excitement to be able to lightly kick the ball down the hallway. Another example was a 5-year-old patient that didn’t want to walk after having her appendix removed. I was called in to help after the nurse had tried for over 30 minutes to convince her to walk. As soon as I came into the room the patient exclaimed: “I’M NOT GOING TO WALK!” I validated her feelings and told her I wasn’t going to make her walk. However, I noticed her Rapunzel doll looked a little hungry so I asked the patient if she wanted me to bring in a play kitchen so she could make her some food. The patient eagerly accepted and spent over an hour walking, sitting, standing, and moving around her room as she played preparing food for her doll.
  • Increase PO intake – when it comes to food one must always be empathetic. I would never want to ruin a child’s relationship with food so I always use caution with these interventions. Depending on the age, fun plates/cups/utensils of their favorite characters will do the trick. Other times an incentive chart will help. I’v71PGEs0JBGL._SY355_e had a lot of success with simply changing the subject; stop talking about food and do something else. Leave the food around, engage in play, and the eating will often start organically. I mean, who doesn’t like to munch on some waffles while setting up Lego’s. It’s definitely a syrupy mess but hey, he ate! Providing play food and letting them freely play and feed their toys can also be helpful.
  • Incentive spirometer – many patients are required to use an incentive spirometer after certain breathing treatments. The ones at my hospital have fun designs on them that make them look like a game. However, I get consults to help with these patients all the time! Kids hate using them! So, leave it to me with my bag of tricks to get kids to breathe. Check out my previous post on yoga and deep breathing as this is always my first go to. I also like to give kids choices so I have kazoo’s, bubbles, string pipe toy, and other fun 61n+WVdutdL._SY355_breathing toys to get them to take those deep breaths. Even toddlers get in on the breathing fun by blowing out the candles on my birthday cake. There’s nothing toddlers love more than songs, repetition, and a cause and effect toy!

 

 

 

 

For a full list of resources to increase compliance, check out my Amazon list here:

Increasing Compliance
Link: http://a.co/1sKYUcg

Child Life Market

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All week long I’ve shared with you some of my favorite resources I use to help my patients cope with hospitalization. Let’s end another week with a peek into my child life market, Coping + Normalization Edition!

 Normalization
Link: http://a.co/3sqZ08E

Coping Tools
Link: http://a.co/2uwX17K

Favorite Find

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Image Source: http://confettifoundation.org/

In January 2014, The Confetti Foundation started supplying birthday party kits to children who spend their birthdays in the hospital. Through the party kits, children of all ages are celebrated and honored on their special day.

One of my favorite duties as a CCLS is helping patients celebrate important milestones, like birthdays! I love celebrating birthdays and the Confetti Foundation makes it so much easier to transform any patient room into a party! Each box they send out is categorized by theme/gender or labeled “for everyone”. Inside you’ll find streamers and other things to decorate the patient’s room, cups, utensils, plates, and lots of other fun goodies to help celebrate. For more information on the confetti foundation click here: http://confettifoundation.org/

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#MSDStrong

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Today at 10am a group of employees and our kiddos from daycare participated in #nationalwalkout day with 17 minutes of silence and a walk around the hospital. The tragedy in Parkland hits close to home as #marjorystonemandouglass is only about a 45 minute drive from us here in Miami. As child life specialists, our role is to advocate for children inside & outside of the hospital, & advocate for their safety. Politics aside, it’s all about the kids. Keep them safe! #MSDstrong #childlife #childifespecialist #childandfamilyadvocate #itsallaboutthekids #adventuresinchildlife

Favorite Find

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tanners totes

Tanners Totes is dedicated to providing cheer to preteen and teen patients undergoing long-term hospital treatments and stays. A Tanner’s Tote is unique in that it presents the patient with a wide variety of new, non-food, items to bring some greatly needed distractions and joy.

This is another organization that I hold near and dear to my heart. The resources they provide are perfect for preteens/teens that are experiencing long hospital stays. We all know how hard it is to have games/toys/activities/resources for teens so these big tote bags are a Godsend! They include various items such as a dry erase board, uno, water bottle, sketch book, markers, colored pencils, etc. My favorite item in the bag has to be the Staples “Easy Button”. My kiddo’s always get a kick out of that one and it truly makes a positive impact during their recovery. These totes are TOTES amazing!

For more on Tanners Totes, visit https://www.tannerstotes.com/child-life-specialist

For information on getting Tanners Totes to your hospital, visit https://www.tannerstotes.com/child-life-specialist

Favorite Find

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Being that March is Child Life Month (YAY!) I am going to share with you 3 of my favorite finds throughout the week. Today is all about Pabs Packs!

“PAB” is for Pia and Abbie; that’s us. We are lifelong friends. One of the things we share is knowing what it’s like to be in the hospital feeling lousy and scared. Abbie was diagnosed at age 13 in 2013 with Type 1 diabetes. Pia received her diagnosis in 2014 at the age of 14: Stage 2A Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Thanks to the wonderful care we received at Children’s Hospitals Pia is cancer free and Abbie has her diabetes under control. With a lot of help from our families, we started PAB’S PACKS in 2014 because we wanted to help kids who are going through long days in the hospital.

I split my days between NICU and our surgery/orthopedics unit. The surgery/orthopedic unit is where I meet patients that are about to go into surgery and are in major need of some comfort. Pabs Packs are the perfect compliment to my teachings/preps prior to surgery because they include everything the patient’s need at that time.

  • A soft blanket
  • A stress ball
  • Chapstick and lotion
  • A very cute and cuddly penguin (which I’ve been able to place IV’s on during medical play to match the patient)
  • A journal with a pen (which I use to encourage patients to write any questions they may have or journal about their experience)
  • & a flyer with the inspiring story of Pia and Abbie and their journey with hospitalization

My teens absolutely love their Pabs Packs inside and out (the backpacks themselves are very chic, modern, and unisex)! I’ve seen time and time again what a tremendous positive impact they have on not just the patients, but the family as well.