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!
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!
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 to offer grieving families.
Angel GownsNICU 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.
Teeny TearsTeeny 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
Being a Child Life Specialist is great, but I feel that I cannot take full credit for the wonderful work that I do. There are many amazing organizations out there that work to provide Child Life teams around the nation with tools and materials that will help make the hospital experience less scary. Below are some of my personal favorites:
For every headband purchased, 1 is donated to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to St.Baldrick’s. I love headbands of hope and it’s thanks to them that on more than one occasion I’ve been able to bring smiles (and super cute headbands) to dozens of girls battling cancer.
Inspired by Jessie Rees, the organization NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) has made it it’s mission to send a joy jar to children with cancer nation wide. NEGU makes it possible to give a jar full of (age appropriate) FUN to our oncology patients whenever they come to the hospital.
Project Sunshine is a volunteer based organization that provides crafts and supplies for hospitalized children. There are a variety of things that Project Sunshine provides its hospitals with, my personal favorite for the ER are the craft kits!
I will be forever grateful for Kid Flicks – we all know how popular movie watching is in the hospital setting as well as how quickly DVD’s are lost, damaged, or stolen. I contacted them when I first began working in my department where there hadn’t been a child life specialist in over a year. Needless to say the DVD collection need some major TLC! After a couple of e-mails, I had a box with 100 DVD’s in my hands.
Digging Deep is an incredible resource for school-aged/teen patients facing health-care challenges. It is beautifully written and designed to be appealing for the age group. I am incredibly thankful to be able to provide such an amazing resource for my patients that need it most. (side note: they just released their Spanish version!)