What are Child Life Specialists?
Our certified Child Life Specialists at Ranken Jordan help children build coping skills while they are in the hospital. They have a special understanding of child development and health care issues so they can best educate and prepare patients for medical experiences and procedures.
This expert team develops therapeutic play and appropriate activities for patients and siblings. In addition, they provide support to patients, siblings and other family members during stressful times.
With education and experience in child development, our Child Life Specialists understand where a child is developmentally and can recognize when a child is behind and what activities are appropriate for each developmental stage. We also understand chronological age can be different than developmental age so we adapt our approach accordingly for each child.
Child Life Specialists help kids be kids so they can better cope with being in the hospital. Our team collaborates with all the hospital departments and specialists to make children’s experiences as positive as possible.
Our dedicated Child Life Specialists work with children in groups and individually. With consistent care and interaction throughout the child’s stay, Child Life Specialists build trust and get to know the child and family well for the most personalized approach.
How do Child Life Specialists help my child?
Through developmental and/or medical play, Child Life Specialists help children understand and prepare for a procedure so they know what to expect. We also explain the illness or injury in a way the child can best understand. Our goal is to give children a sense of control and make them feel more secure in an unfamiliar environment.
Our approach is tailored to each child’s age and developmental stage. For older children, we may explain a procedure using an iPad and explain what they will see, hear, feel, smell or taste. Younger children may explore with play medical instruments such as a stethoscope or a pretend needle.
Child Life Specialists offer children long-term coping skills and take away the fear of the unknown. Each positive coping step paves the way for any future procedures. The team also offers a way for children to express their feelings about their experiences, fears or concerns.
In addition, Child Life Specialists often serve as our patients’ advocates. We understand that children’s emotional well-being impacts their physical well-being as well as their motivation in therapy. When children are strong emotionally, they are better able to advocate for themselves.
How do Child Life Specialists help my family?
Child Life Specialists at Ranken Jordan are focused on family-centered care. We make sure siblings and parents are taken into account with every step of the journey to empower them. For example, we prepare siblings for what they might see because of the patient’s injury or disease, and teach them about medical equipment that may be in the home once the patient leaves the hospital.
In addition, we help parents feel more comfortable by including them in the play with their child.
Another way we help the whole family is by connecting them with the patient when they are not able to physically visit the hospital. We use technology such as FaceTime and email to keep families in touch and feel included and to bring smiles and encouragement.
How do Child Life Specialists prepare my child to go home?
Another important role Child life Specialists play is to bridge from hospital to home and back to school. We work closely with families and schools to develop a school re-entry plan. That may include creating a presentation for the child to give to the whole school, the classroom or the teacher so the child doesn’t have to repeatedly answer questions about what happened, physical injuries, or other details.
A Child Life Specialist is typically available to go with the child for the presentation for offer added confidence or to answer other questions in an age-appropriate way. This is another example of how Ranken Jordan takes care into the community.
How is the experience different at Ranken Jordan because of Child Life Specialists?
Some children are hospitalized for an extended length of time and can regress or stall in their development without intervention. Child Life Specialists inspire kids to be kids while at Ranken Jordan and help children continue to develop appropriately.
We encourage all children to come out of their rooms regularly to go outside, socialize with other children, or play on the playground.
Even children who are on ventilators at Ranken Jordan are able to go outside and participate in many activities. It’s all part of our “Yes” philosophy of overcoming challenges to help kids live their best lives.
To learn more about how children benefit from Child Life Therapists, please contact us at (314) 872-6449.