Child Life Therapists are very special people who help kids with cancer through all the scary procedures and hospital stays.
Our recent appeal to fund more Child Life Therapists raised enough for a brand-new position at John Hunter Hospital in northern NSW. We had a chat to Aimee to see how she’s getting on in her new role.
What does a typical day look like for you?
In essence our role is to reduce hospital-associated stress and anxiety. How this looks day-to-day can vary greatly!
We engage children in medical and diversional play to reduce fear of medical equipment that they will see regularly. Children learn and find comfort through play – it is their language. Providing children with a safe space to play and feel comfortable promotes their trust in me and allows me to support them when they really need it during procedures.
We also support children through education and preparation prior to procedures, such as intravenous cannulation or scans. This preparation assists in reducing children’s fears of the unknown and builds resilience and feelings of empowerment.
During the procedures we use diversional therapy such as therapeutic play, iPads and also virtual reality technology where appropriate. We also encourage and empower children’s coping skills and strategies such as deep breathing, wriggling toes, giving them choice and control where possible, music, and creating a safe space for them to promote feelings of ease and calm. We are advocates for the children.
What is the best part of your job?
The relationships that you build with the children and families, and then seeing them implement the coping strategies you’ve helped them learn is wonderful to see! There is a ripple effect, when the child is calm the parents feel more at ease as well.
Research shows that play and education surrounding medical procedures can reduce the need for interventions such as sedation. To be able to support children successfully through procedures without them requiring sedation is truly rewarding, knowing how proud they are of themselves and also reducing the stress on their body.
Positive hospital experiences lead to better long-term health outcomes physically and psychologically for children, which is so rewarding to be a part of!
If you could send one message to Camp Quality’s supporters, what would it be?
Thank you for your enormous value and appreciation that you have for the work that we do as Child Life Therapists!
Because of your funding, we are able to provide more children and families with evidence-based interventions to support them on their treatment journey – promoting positive experiences and, ultimately, better outcomes for them!