Child life specialists work as collaborative partners with nursing, pediatric physicians, patient experience representatives, technicians, and other healthcare professionals in order to promote positive coping during healthcare experiences that can often be overwhelming for children and families.
Child life programs are common in the Greater New York Area.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends, “Child life services should be delivered as part of an integrated patient- and family-centered model of care and included as a quality indicator in the delivery of services for children and families in healthcare settings.” Furthermore, child life services “improve quality and outcomes in pediatric care as well as the overall patient and family experience,” (AAP, 2014).
According to Shannon Patterson, Director of Service Excellence at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, “I am incredibly grateful to have Child Life Specialists as members of our care team. They play an integral role in our patient and family-centered approach to care and they support our patient experience efforts immensely.”
“In addition to the education and support provided to our patients, families, and staff, the Child Life team possesses highly specialized clinical skills that support safe and effective healthcare,” she continued.
“We had always done our best to make children feel comfortable, but often had challenges. Now that we have a child life specialist on staff, I can focus on the physical health of the patient while she provides emotional support to the child and their parents,” says Dr. Christopher Kelly.
“When she has prepared them and is present to provide support during a procedure I am conducting, they are generally less anxious and more cooperative, making my job much easier.”
Child life specialists not only work clinically to minimize anxiety and support positive coping in children and families, they contribute to the education process of nurses, physicians, technicians, and other healthcare professionals.
Child life specialists, with a strong educational background in child development and related topics, can help healthcare professionals improve their comfort in working with children across developmental stages and those with unique needs.
Child life services can work in children’s hospitals as well as hospitals with pediatric units or departments.