Child Life Services
Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento
The Child Life Program, including our Facility Dog Program, is an important part of each child's hospital experience at Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento. Child Life Specialists work with the child, parents and hospital staff to make life as normal as possible and to minimize the emotional trauma to the infant, child or adolescent and his or her family. As a member of the health care team in both outpatient and inpatient settings, Child Life Specialists provide essential life experiences for gaining a sense of mastery, for play, for learning, for self-expression, for family involvement, and for peer interaction.
Sutter's Child Life Specialists are educated at the undergraduate and graduate level in child growth and development, specifically focusing on the effects of hospitalization on children. Child Life Specialists also go through an extensive certification process through the Child Life Council.
Child Life Specialists are specially educated and trained to:
- Emotionally prepare and provide support for patients during treatments/procedures.
- Assess patient's adjustment and reaction to diagnoses and health care experience.
- Communicate patient's needs, coping styles, care plans, and other assessments to staff and family members.
- Provide therapeutic play that facilitates expression of feelings associated with hospitalization.
- Reinforce explanations of patient's treatment plan and clarify misconceptions about the hospital experience.
- Provide coping techniques to help patients through difficult/invasive events.
- Provide activities and opportunities to gain mastery and a sense of control over the hospital experience.
- Facilitate sibling visits and provide support.
- Be a child's advocate!
- To provide therapeutic play and recreational activities for patients and their families. Play activities with individual children and small groups of children are conducted in the playroom as well as at the bedside. Play is the primary tool utilized by Child Life Specialists as it serves an important role in learning and coping with anxiety and stress. Children communicate and express feelings about their illnesses and hospitalization through play. Developmentally appropriate and individualized play opportunities are provided for children to promote control, mastery and success in the hospital environment. The Child Life program is also responsible for arranging appropriate entertainment and special events for patients and their families.
- To provide a developmentally appropriate, accepting and safe playroom environment that allows children to express feelings, engage in activities of individual choice and socialize with peers.
- To help alleviate stress and anxiety associated with hospitalization by providing developmentally appropriate education regarding diagnoses and/or procedures. Individualized pre-admission tours for hospital visits are offered for patients and their families. In addition, pre-surgical and pre-procedural preparation and post-traumatic play opportunities are provided based on a child's individual needs. Play interventions help children understand and integrate what is going to happen before and after treatments and surgery. These interventions also allow patients to learn and rehearse coping skills that can be utilized during stressful events. Through play opportunities such as these, children are able to express their fears and misconceptions related to their medical condition, working toward a better understanding of the hospital experience.
- To offer emotional support to the families of hospitalized children, including siblings and extended family members. Child Life Specialists serve as a resource for families, providing education on developmental issues related to the hospitalized child as well as general parenting skills. Intervention for siblings includes education about illness as well as preparation and support for visits to the hospital. Bereavement support is also provided to families when needed, along with the social work and pastoral care departments. The Child Life Program promotes family-centered care policies, encouraging unrestricted visiting hours, sibling visitation, parent sleeping in and parental presence for patients during stressful events.
- To provide information to multidisciplinary staff regarding patients' developmental level, adjustment to hospitalization and/or diagnoses, as well as individual coping skills. Child Life staff members participate in multidisciplinary rounds and patient education plans. Child Life observations, assessments and recommendations for the care of children appear in daily verbal reports, multidisciplinary team rounds and patients' medical charts.
- To serve as a child advocate, interpreting/speaking for the child/family. Child Life Specialists communicate individual needs and concerns to appropriate staff members in order to promote quality pediatric care.
- To coordinate student/volunteer/foster grandparent placements in the pediatric setting that support Child Life goals. This includes training and daily supervision on interacting with pediatric patients and their families.
To find out more about the Child Life Program, please contact (916) 887-0500.
If your child is undergoing care at Children's Center, you can help make it as easy as possible by preparing him or her for the experience. Please visit the pages on:
- Preparing Your Infant or Toddler for Hospitalization and Surgery
- Preparing Your Pre-schooler for Hospitalization and Surgery
- Preparing Your School-Aged Child for Hospitalization and Surgery
- Preparing Your Adolescent for Hospitalization and Surgery
Complete with their own photo identification badge, Penny and Marty brighten the day of children staying Sutter Children's Center, Sacramento.
Our Child Life Program added pet therapy in 2003 as a way to help ease the minds and fears that children have while staying in the hospital.
Penny and Marty are graduates of Canine Companion for Independence, which trains dogs to be assistants to those who are disabled. Their unique bedside manner brings joy and comfort to the youngest patients.
|Born:||September 10, 2013|
|Breed:||Lab Golden Cross|
|Education:||Canine Companions for Independence|
Running, playing fetch, chasing tennis balls, playing with kids
|Born:||November 28, 2011|
|Breed:||Black Labrador and Golden Retriever|
|Education:||Canine Companions for Independence|
|Playing with toys and cuddling with children|
Find out how to become an intern in the Childlife Internship Program. Learn More about the Child Life Internship