When a child is hospitalized, the medical environment and all the new people that will interact with that child can be overwhelming. Every new face is someone that child has to get to know and trust. Any child life specialist knows that establishing rapport is important when providing support to a child and family as is helping the child feel more comfortable in the hospital. Here are a couple of activities that could be helpful in breaking the ice and normalizing the environment for the child:
ALL ABOUT ME:
We have all filled out these fun graphs as kids and you can find many free templates for this online. This is a great way to get to know more about the patient and use as a conversation starter for the CLS. You could hang it on the hospital room wall so it could be visible to doctors and nurses too. It’s fun to see what common interests the child may have with the staff! Most kids will have done this exercise in school so the familiarity of it may also provide some normalcy.
MY HOSPITAL AUTOGRAPH BOOK:
I love this idea because it also provides a creative art outlet. The child can construct and decorate the autograph book in anyway they want with stickers, glitter, etc. This is a great opportunity to for the CLS to discuss all the people that come in contact with the patient and what each of their jobs is to help the child feel more comfortable with the staff. If the child is able to walk he or she could go with the CLS to “meet the staff” and collect autographs or if the child cannot leave the room then the autograph could be obtained in the room. You could add a game element to it and make a goal for how many autographs the child can get before discharge. Great for school age children who like games with rules and goals. Another plus is that this can be taken home with the child and the child can choose to share it with family or friends as a way to talk about their hospital experience.
HOSPITAL SCAVENGER HUNT:
Another way to normalize the hospital environment in an interactive way, this would be customized to fit your particular hospital. A few examples that could be used include: Name 2 nurses that work on your floor; locate the playroom and find 3 activities you could do there, etc. Depending on your hospital you could also have the hint include certain medical items like gloves or masks. This could also be used as a way to introduce patients to each other and possibly work together to complete the tasks.