Child life services at The Children's Hospital of Alabama works in the clinics to improve the stay of patients and families at the medical center.
Child life specialists prepare children and their families for hospitalization, clinic visits, or procedures through the use of play experiences, developmentally appropriate information and therapeutic support. Child life specialists are trained to recognize developmental issues related to health care experiences and build on a child's strengths and sense of well being to promote further development and reduce the adverse effects of a hospital experience.
When providing information to children and families, child life specialists explain procedures using words children and their families will understand and are familiar with. Child life provides preparation for, and support during, procedures such as blood draws, IV starts, spinal taps and other invasive procedures.
A variety of techniques are used to assist in coping, pain reduction and relaxation. Play is an integral part of a child's day. Developmentally appropriate arts and crafts, music, toys, and games are provided to create a child-friendly environment where patients can simply enjoy being children. Play activities and materials are structured to promote self-expression, understanding and mastery.
Through donations, the child life specialists maintain supplies, schedule special events, escort patients and families to special events and arrange celebrations. Child life specialists work with the medical team to provide comprehensive care to both the child and family.