Child Life Month is celebrated every March, honoring the caregivers who go above and beyond medicine for patients and families every day. The members of our Child Life and Integrative Care team play a significant role in both inpatient and outpatient care, across our locations and campuses. They offer a variety of coping and healing interactions – including everything from music to animals to massages.
Because these professionals adapt everything they do to meet the needs of each child or family, it is impossible to document every single thing they do. But on the occasion of Child Life month, we wanted to tell you a bit about this incredible team and their areas of expertise – some of which are a bit less visible than others.
Located throughout both the Burnet and Liberty Campuses, Activity Centers are designed with kids in mind. These rooms provide safe spaces where patients can go to be away from beds and doctors and just be kids. The activity centers have toys, games, crafts, and seasonal activities to engage each child and take his or her mind off of their treatment – even if for just a few minutes. Angie Baker, a Child Life and Integrative Care Clinical Coordinator reflected on one such experience during a superhero-themed activity.
“There were magical moments when the patients spoke about who their favorite hero was or how they feel to pretend to be a super hero themselves. One of our parents told her child he was her hero because of how brave he’s been while at the hospital.”
Another way patients are put at ease is through forms of physical medicine that aim to treat the mind, body, and spirit. Holistic Health Specialist Judy Goins explains.
“Integrative Care therapies may consist of massage therapy, energy therapy (Healing Touch or Reiki), reflexology, acupressure, cranio-sacral therapy, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, yoga, therapeutic listening, etc. These modalities may help reduce/eliminate pain, decrease anxiety, promote comfort and relaxation, offer distraction and comfort during procedures, and enhance developmental care.”
Music Therapists certainly have some of the coolest jobs at Cincinnati Children’s, but did you know they have specialized degrees in Music Therapy? They also complete post curriculum internships and then pass a national exam called the CBMT.
Our Music Therapists are rarely seen without a guitar or drum in-hand, ready to make music. To them, it’s not about the quality of music they make with their patients, their goal is to provide musical interactions that promote healing, growth, and peace. If one of the music therapists ever knocks on your door offering a session, say yes, because it will definitely be a worthwhile experience!
Seacrest Studio is another way to help patients enjoy their time at Cincinnati Children’s.
“Our goal is to improve a patient’s mood through playing games, dancing in studio, and teaching them how to use the studio equipment,” studio intern Henry Risemberg explains. “Every day at the studio is fun and exciting. Between playing games with the patients and my fellow co-workers on the air, hosting special guests, creating content for our website and all the other fun stuff we get to do, there’s really never a dull moment at WKID33 – Seacrest Studios.”
The station managers, interns, and volunteers produce 26 interactive programs each week Monday through Friday. Programming airs between 10am and 6:30pm each day, and includes trivia, interviews, games and a fan favorite: BINGO!
From time to time, special celebrities and animal guests visit the medical center. When they do, the Seacrest Studio (WKID-33) allows patients to watch live and often participate in the fun both in-studio as well as from their hospital rooms.
You can find the glass-front WKID-33 studio across from the cafeteria in Location D at Burnet Campus, or by tuning in to Channel 33 on any television within the Burnet Campus.
Animal Assisted Therapy
It’s not only humans who can have an impact on a patient’s well-being. Facility dogs Leica and Chevy play an active role in mood-setting across the hospital. As part of the Animal Assisted Therapy Program, their job is to put patients at-ease while they are visiting Cincinnati Children’s.
“When (Chevy) walks into a room, the patient’s face lights up with excitement for this very special visitor,” explains Child Life Specialist and primary handler of Chevy, Katie Sullivan. “It is often the last thing (the child) expect to see in a world filled with uncomfortable and painful procedures; stranger sights and sounds; and unfamiliar people coming in at all times of the day and night.”
It may seem like all playtime and smiles, but the job of a Child Life Specialist is one that is taken very seriously. Christina Kuhlman and Sarah Sands explained how they keep spirits high during tough times.
“We know that coming to the hospital can be scary and overwhelming; not just for children but also for caregivers. Research has taught us that play is the language of children. We use play to understand a child’s interpretation of their medical experience.”
For more information on what the Child Life & Integrative Care staff is up to, or for more on their offerings across the medical center, visit their website here.