7 Methods to Improve Pediatric Patient Experience

Patient experience looks and feels different for every pediatric patient and their caregivers. It’s important to be able to read and to empathize with each individual during their healthcare journey in order to provide the best patient experience. A toddler’s care varies widely from that of a teenager, so how can you improve the patient experience for such a wide range of patients and their respective caregivers? Here are some methods that can improve the pediatric patient experience, regardless of age:

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Rachel MartindaleComment
SpellBound Brings Valentines to Life for Patients

It’s not easy for patients and their families to have to spend holidays in the hospital. Valentine’s Day is one of those special holidays where kids get to eat a lot of heart-shaped candy and give valentines to their classmates and friends. Missing out on those celebrations is tough, which is why children’s hospitals make an effort to bring joy to patients by delivering them valentines. Most of these Valentine’s Day programs are powered by asking the community to send virtual valentines, which are then printed out and hand delivered to patients in the hospital.

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Rachel MartindaleComment
The Benefits of Augmented Reality for Pediatric Patient Education

When people experience augmented reality (AR) for the first time, they’re wow’ed by the experience, but often the question comes: how effective is AR? How does it compare to current methods of education? Since there are barriers to implementing any new technology or policy, it’s important to understand the effects.

In the case of AR and education, the studies are clear. Augmented reality can increase motivation, boost length of engagement, and improve retention and understanding of material, all of which work together to increase the efficacy of patient education.

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Ilya PoltavetsComment
Patient Experience: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

We toss around the term patient experience (PX) often but what does it really mean? Is it just good customer service or incorporating patient-centered care? We like The Beryl Institute’s definition of PX which is “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” Patient experience is care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences and needs, and ensures that clinical decisions are guided by patient values.

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Rachel MartindaleComment
How Augmented Reality Can Reduce Hospital Readmissions

Hospital readmissions are an ongoing issue for hospitals and efforts remain high to drive down the rate of rehospitalizations. The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, implemented in October 2012, has been penalizing hospitals with excess levels of preventable 30-day readmission rates for certain conditions like pneumonia and heart failure. And in 2009, Jencks, Williams, and Coleman published an article highlighting the alarming amount (19.6%) of patients who were rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge in 2003-2004 and the estimated cost of unplanned rehospitalizations at $17.4 billion in 2004.

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Rachel MartindaleComment
7 Ways Augmented Reality Can Impact Autism Spectrum Disorder

We’re often asked if and how augmented reality (AR) can be used to help patients who have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. ASD is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior and often appears within the first two years of life. Symptoms can include difficulty with communication and social interaction with others, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. AR is a technology where digital information (images, audio, text) is superimposed on the real world, either with mobile devices or headsets and glasses. AR is emerging as a promising technology to help those with ASD understand tasks and the world more fully by bridging the physical and digital worlds. We’ve done some digging into the impact of AR on ASD and research shows to be positive in a variety of situations. AR can encourage play and improve language, communication, emotion identification, and vocabulary. Results also indicate benefits like increased motivation, attention, and the learning of new tasks.

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Rachel MartindaleComment
Child Life Heroes: Child Life in Kenya (Part Two)

In August, Morgan Livingstone, Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and Child Life Director of World Eye Cancer Hope Charity, made her annual trip to Eldoret, Kenya for the child life training that she hosts for the Sally Test Child Life Program at Shoe4Africa Hospital (Kenya’s only public pediatric hospital) within Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. Among the many child life resources and materials she brought along with her, SpellBound was one of them. Morgan thought it’d be a wonderful idea to introduce the technology to the seven child life specialists there to use with patients, and we agreed.

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Child Life Heroes: Child Life in Kenya (Part One)

In August, Morgan Livingstone, Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and Child Life Director of World Eye Cancer Hope Charity, packed her bags and headed to Eldoret, Kenya for the annual child life training that she hosts for the Sally Test Child Life Program at Shoe4Africa Hospital (Kenya’s only public pediatric hospital) within Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. If you read our past blog post about how Morgan has cultivated a child life program in Kenya, you know how much work, time, and energy she has devoted into making this possible. She’s incredibly passionate about nurturing and supporting the growth of locally sustainable child life programs within Kenyan Healthcare.

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A Child Life Student's View of the Profession

Child life is a growing field and we’re seeing the profession expand into more areas like disaster relief, private practice, and assisting during traumatic events. Even so, it’s still a very competitive field and more individuals are studying to become child life specialists. With this, we hope that there will be a continuous increase in the amount of avenues that aspiring child life specialists can utilize their skills. Here’s one child life student’s perspective:

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A Parent's Perspective on Child Life

While child life specialists primarily work with children, we know that they impact much more than just the child. Whether directly or indirectly, siblings, parents, grandparents, and other family members are significantly affected by the work of child life specialists. We wanted to hear about the effects of Child Life from a lesser-heard perspective: the parent. As a mom of two young daughters, here is Christina's story:

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Rachel MartindaleComment
Cultivating Child Life in Kenya

While the child life profession is gaining more popularity in North America and other, more Westernized countries, there are still many areas of the world that don’t have access to child life services. Just recently, we featured a blog post on paving the way for Child Life in Japan, the largest child life presence in Asia with 50 certified child life specialists (CCLSs). 50 may not seem like much in comparison to the thousands of child life specialists in the US, but it’s still significant compared to the areas that have none. This is why we need dedicated child life specialists who are passionate about building global child life programs from the ground up and advocates to support them.

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IV Starts Don't Have to Hurt

The sheer number of IV starts that are done in inpatient and outpatient hospital settings is greatly under-appreciated, except, of course, by patients, nurses, and the certified child life specialists (CCLS) who support patients during these procedures. It’s estimated that hundreds of millions of needle procedures are administered in the U.S. every year, and on average, an emergency room does 5,900+ IV starts in that time.

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Christina YorkComment
Child Life Heroes: Paving the Way in Japan

Child life is a fast-growing field in North America, but it’s also catching on in other countries around the world. Hospitals, schools, and organizations spanning the globe are recognizing the ways that child life specialists can help kids. Being based in the United States, we may be familiar with what child life looks like in North America, but child life in other countries has some significant differences. Eriko Miura is a certified child life specialist (CCLS) at St. Luke's International Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, and she has first-hand insight about some of these differences. Her child life story starts as a second year psychology student in college.

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Child Life Heroes: Navigating the Child Life Journey

Becoming a certified child life specialist (CCLS) is hard work. It takes a lot of schooling, training, preparation, and dedication to get the certification and the job. But it’s worth it because child life specialists make a huge impact in the lives of kids and families each day. To get a better perspective of the process of becoming a CCLS, I asked Ashley Bain, a child life student, about her current child life internship and the advice she has for those navigating the child life journey.

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Child Life Heroes: Continuing the Work Through Blogging

After years of training and professional experience in child life, child life specialists build up a amazing amount of specialized skills and knowledge that can help others in their field. In recent years, blogging has provided an effective platform for child life specialists to share their best practices and insights with their peers and to learn about the field. When Dawn Klausmeier, CCLS (certified child life specialist), C-CISM (certified critical incident stress management), transitioned into staying at home with her two kids in 2017, she decided to continue her child life work by sharing her knowledge through blogging. I recently asked her about her experience as a child life specialist and how she uses her blog, Dose of Play, to support others.

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Superhero Princess and the Power of Play

Every child has a deep, intrinsic love for play. I was reminded of this during a visit to the Family Center at C.S. Mott's Children's Hospital. Among the children in the room, I saw a little girl of about 5 years old who was sitting in a large wheelchair. Her body was weak, connected to a variety of lines and equipment. She wore a princess gown, but that wasn’t fun enough: she wanted a superhero cape, too! And with the cape, of course, she wanted someone to push her wheelchair around the hospital at high speed so she could feel like she was flying. As tired and sick as she was, the playful spirit bubbling out of her was unmistakable and heartwarming.

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Child Life Heroes: A One-Person Show

How would you balance working in the pediatric inpatient unit and outpatient oncology clinic, teaching a pre-surgery class four days a week, and providing after-hours cerebral palsy patient support once a month? Alexandria Friesen, Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS), is doing just that as a one-person child life program at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. I had the opportunity to ask her a bit more about her unique experiences of being the only CCLS in the hospital.

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Child Life Heroes: Child Life Month Feature

This Child Life Month, we hosted a nomination-based giveaway for child life specialists to nominate their colleagues and give recognition for their work. Emily Kittell, Certified Child Life Specialist at American Family Children’s Hospital, was the winning nominee. Emily’s nominator, Kristen Lawrence, spoke highly of how she has worked in a variety of different hospital settings and has impacted many patients and families, so I was excited to learn more about her role and experience as a CCLS.

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