Distraction

Leave a comment Standard

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?

Advertisements

Grape medicine cups 

Comments 2 Standard


Taking medicine isn’t always easy – especially when it needs to be taken every day for an extended period of time. Non-compliance with taking medicine can also cause a great deal of stress for parents, especially when it’s the one thing keeping the patient from being discharged. One of my patients was having a hard time with this task so to make things a bit more tolerable, we decorated her medicine cups. This patient really wanted it to be grape flavor however we couldn’t give her that option for this particular medication. To try and fix her grape craving, we stuck with the grape theme for her medicine cups. The medicine is still unpleasant, but creating these cups & giving her choices made the whole process a little more tolerable. What are some ways you help patients be compliant with taking their meds?

Favorite find of the month

Comment 1 Standard

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 !

Favorite find of the month 

Comment 1 Standard

img_0483
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before in one of my posts how much I love giving gold medals as a reward for brave patients. Especially when I was working in the ER, on a busy night  I’d easily run through a pack of medals. Often times I’ve noticed that when given a medal and a toy as a reward, patients are more excited about the medal!

This months favorite find is all about medals. We finish together is  an organization where those who have won medals can donate them to be given to children in the hospital. Our local chapter came to give some out to the kiddos in our hospital earlier this month. I love this organization and the immense positive impact it has on our pediatric patients.

Worth it: 003

Leave a comment Standard

 

 

Image-1.jpg

I found this hidden in my drafts & thought it would be great to post for today’s throwback Thursday! This was written about a year ago when I was still working in the pediatric emergency room. I love this post because stories like these happen all of the time thanks to child life specialists!

(The patient’s name has been changed for privacy.)

When I walked into 6-year-old Bettys room to do an IV teaching, she was nowhere in sight. I asked mom if she was in the bathroom when Betty started to scream from under the sink.  (Side note: Can you imagine being so scared that you hide under a sink?! )”No!” “I don’t want the needle!” “You’re not going to pinch me!” I then crouched down and sat in front of Betty to introduce myself; “Hi, Betty – my name is Diane and I’m a Child Life Specialist. I don’t have any needles with me, but I did bring my bubbles. Do you like blowing bubbles?” Betty nodded. We started to blow bubbles and Betty hesitantly popped them from under the sink. After a little, I said “why don’t you come out from under the sink so that you can pop them better… I’ll make a big one for you!” “Okay!” Betty said & came right out from under the sink.

As we continued to pop bubbles, I started to ask Betty about her  hospital experience. It was her first time, she felt very sick, and she was very worried they might give her a shot.  I validated her feelings and then began to talk to Betty about the different ways we were going to help her feel better while she was in the hospital. I told her about the urine test she did, the flu test she did, the strep test she did, and about her upcoming IV. Betty was now aware that the IV meant that there was going to be a “pinch” involved and that the most important rule for getting her IV was that she could not move her arm because her veins (aka, blue tunnels) are very slippery. Betty also made the decision to play on the iPad while they started her IV so that she didn’t have to watch, and she wanted her nurse to count to 3 before the pinch.

Our plan was in place. I told Betty I would go let her nurse know that she was ready and she nodded & hopped up on the bed. Betty did GREAT with her IV, you would have never thought she was hiding under the sink screaming just 10 minutes before. I was so proud of her and how brave she was with getting her IV!

 

Favorite Find of the Month

Leave a comment Standard

My favorite find of the month are these coloring books that feature kids with disabilities! Sue Nuenke and her son, Christopher Harmon, have worked together to create fun coloring books and stickers that will help kids “see characters that look like them too”. I am a huge fan of any and all resources that I can provide for children with disabilities – much more so those resources that help normalize their environment. These coloring pages are available on the website (link below) to print for free!


For more information on Popping Wheelies visit: http://themighty.com/2015/08/1this-mom-created-coloring-books-that-feature-kids-with-disabilities/

Fall Themed Craft Kits

Comment 1 Standard

IMG_6251

I’m all about waiting room craft kits! Especially seasonal ones! I mean, c’mon, look how cute these little “Fall Friends” are!! These craft kits are very easy to make and I am truly blessed to have such great volunteers that help me make dozens of them (thanks sofi & stephanie).

All you need is:

Then you just put 10 shapes and half of a construction paper into a baggie & voilà! Fun, seasonal, adorable, mess free waiting room crafts ready to go!

Providing Support for Children with Special Needs

Comment 1 Standard

IMG_6003

This is a topic that I hold very near and dear to my heart, so much so that I am working on my masters degree in developmental disabilities! As like any new Child Life Specialist, it’s already challenging enough to master the art of effectively matching appropriate interventions to a patient’s temperament, family influence, and medical procedure, while working alongside the multidisciplinary team and balancing everything else that comes with the job. Now throw into the loop a child with a developmental disability with whom you have little or no experience in providing support and services for, things can surely become overwhelming. Remember, I work in an emergency room so my scenarios (with any patient) are often quick, urgent, and stressful. So, what’s my game plan? How can I provide Child Life services in a situation where my usual go-to interventions may not be as effective?

First and foremost: ask the parent/caregiver! This is your best source of information because they know exactly what their child needs to cope and feel most comfortable. I will often introduce myself to the patient and the family and then ask them how I can help their child – what form of distraction works best for them? are there any particular environmental changes I can make to help him/her feel more comfortable (dimming the lights, allowing him/her to sit on a chair vs the bed, warmer temperature in the room)? what is his/her favorite cartoon/character?

After speaking with the parent/caregiver, I will have some information in my back pocket on how I can adjust my interventions for this unique situation. Also, I always make sure and have specific toys set aside for kids with special needs – tactile sensory toys, toys that light up, toys that make noise, puzzles with pegs, etc.

I had a chance to ask parents of children with special needs what they felt are some things that heath care professionals can keep in mind when working with their child. Below are their responses:

Please be mindful that just like their typically developing peers, children with special needs are all unique in their own ways – there is no “one size fits all” intervention. What may work for one child may not for another, regardless of their disability/diagnosis.

  • iPad for distraction
  • Asking the doctor to remove his/her white lab coat before entering the room
  • Providing sensory friendly toys
  • Dimming the lights
  • Providing ear mitts to reduce all the noise (it’s easy to forget how noisy the hospital setting really is – everything is beeping, overhead PA, constant new people walking into the room, phones ringing, medical equipment, etc.)
  • Fluorescent light blocker
  • Lead vest to weigh down on the child (maybe your radiology department has an extra one they can lend you!)
  • Bean bag toy ( http://www.orientaltrading.com/reinforced-bean-bags-a2-61_4000.fltr?Ntt=bean%20bag )
  • Disney Soundtrack
  • Not spending a long time in the waiting room, being a priority to get into a room and be seen
  • Having animal figurines for him/her to play with
  • Having candy such as bubblegum, lollipops, or skittles (this one depends on a LOT, be sure to not only check with the parent/caregiver if you can provide this, but first and foremost the nurse/doctor)

Do you have any tips I didn’t mention? Comment below and let me know!

Sibling Support

Comment 1 Standard

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 ( https://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!

  

Child life month! 

Comments 2 Standard

As a 1 person program working solely in the ER, here’s how I’m celebrating!

IMG_8112

  • 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!)

IMG_8183 IMG_5469IMG_3146