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?

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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

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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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.

Child Life Market

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All week long I’ve shared with you my NICU tips and tricks. Today I want to share my NICU shopping lists with you!

Must-Have Items for NICU Siblings
Link: http://a.co/hVPChxj

Must-Have Items for Bereavements
Link: http://a.co/gh3Fq3w

Must-Have Items for NICU
Link: http://a.co/9x22vgR

What are your NICU must-have items?

NICU Bereavements

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While it is an honor to be able to be a part of this difficult time in a family’s life, bereavements are always difficult in a pediatric setting. They’re of course difficult for the grieving family, they’re difficult for the staff, and they’re difficult for me. No matter what anyone says/does, this is the worst day in this family’s life. Our role as child life specialists is to provide support to the grieving family. This may be by simply sitting with the patient’s mother and listening to her vent, this may be by helping the family create a memory box for the patient, or even just providing tissues and tea. Every bereavement is different as are the needs of each family. During my time in NICU I have found some incredible resources that I’ve been able to offer grieving families.

Angel Gowns  NICU Helping Hands’ Angel Gown® Program began in 2013 because we recognized there was an overwhelming need for better support for families who lost a baby. Our Angel Gown® Program provides comfort for bereaved families through the gift of a beautiful custom-made gown for final photos and for burial services.

I was touched when I received my shipment of Angel Gowns by seeing how much detail was put into the gowns. They’re made from donated wedding dresses and come in a wide range of sizes. The smallest being an “Angel Wrap” for those angels that are too small to clothe, up to extra-large size for infants. The gowns come in individual boxes with a flyer from NICU Helping Hands of various support services they offer grieving families. The gowns are also open in the back with the option to tie, much like a hospital gown.

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Angel Gown for a girl

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Angel Gown for a boy

Angel Wrap for a girl

Teeny Tears Teeny Tears is a service organization that provides tiny flannel diapers at no charge to hospitals and bereavement support organizations for families that have suffered the loss of a preemie or micropreemie child through stillbirth or NICU loss. 

Teeny Tears are another great resource which offer cloth diapers/hats and blanket for the loss of preemies/micropreemies. What I love most about Teeny Tears is that each bundle comes with two diapers and two hats; one for the baby to keep and one for the family to keep.

I have also created an Amazon list of other items I’ve used for bereavements. Click here: http://a.co/iwUT1Zt

Teacher Toolbox

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I am so excited to finally have my teacher tool box up and running! I’ve always been very organized and now I’m able to have all of my expired/left over medical supplies nicely sorted. You can find your own teacher tool box on Amazon.com – click here. They sell lots of different sizes so make sure to look around for one that best meets your needs. As for the labels, I found mine on tacherspayteachers.com – shout out to Classroom Ispirations! You can click here  or you can simply search “teacher toolbox labels” on teacherspayteachers.com and find other themes. Many of them are free like the one I used!

Favorite Find

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I am so excited to have signed up for a 3-day kids yoga teacher training which is coming to Miami next month. Let me start off by saying I’m not a yoga teacher nor would I consider myself a yogi. My experience with yoga is nothing more than the occasional free class at the park or gym every now and then. Maybe a back bend or two at home when I’m in need of a good stretch, but nothing more.

About a week ago I stumbled upon Rainbow Kids Yoga – a company that focuses on giving its students the tools they need to teach yoga to children and families around the world. By glancing at their class schedule, it’s easy to see Rainbow Kids is everywhere – around the US, Europe, South America – everywhere!

How can this class help me as a child life specialist? These are just a few items on the agenda that I know I can use in my day-to-day work as a CCLS: Making yoga work for different age groups, breath and yogic breath for kids, yoga for children with additional needs, relaxation and guided imagery for children, meditation for different age groups

Aside from enhancing my clinical skills, I will also be able to teach children yoga on my free time if I desire as I will have “Registered Children Yoga Teacher (RCYT) status”.

*Cough* *Cough* To all those child life students looking for credentials to spice up their resume’s and stand out in a crowd of applications – look into this! 

Stay tuned for a part 2 of this post after I complete the training!

For an overview of the training click here: http://www.rainbowyogatraining.com/3-day-kids-yoga

You can see the class schedule & register for the upcoming class in Miami here: https://events.bizzabo.com/201924/agenda

 

Favorite find of the month

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As any child life specialist knows, finding a doll with plastic hair is like finding a hidden gem! Due to infection control precautions, cloth dolls or dolls with hair (barbie) should not be used in between patients because they are not able to be properly cleaned/sanitized. I was so excited when I found this Aladdin for 2 reasons:

1. his plastic hair making him easy to clean and maintain

2. Aladdin is a boy making him more relatable and engaging for my boy patient’s

I placed a PICC line on him for now but who knows, maybe in the future, he’ll need an IV or help me demonstrate an OR prep or a breathing treatment. I am so excited to have him by my side!

You can find your own Aladdin doll on  Amazon !