Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Child Life Month 2017

Happy Child Life Month from this Child Life Specilists's desk to yours! My hope is that you remain as inspired as I am by the lives we are able to touch and those that touch us. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Back to Basics: Child Life Assessment

It is hard to believe that summertime is, all too quickly, fleeting and pretty soon schools will be back in session. 

Despite how I may have felt several years ago when this time of the year approached, I now find myself longing to go back to those days when everything was still new, fresh on my mind, and exciting. 
It was in those days that I could take the things I saw written in my textbooks and use them for the first time. Every chance that was given to utilize a new skill in a clinical setting was done with such rigid precision and mindfulness of written text. At the time it was terrifying, but now I catch myself yearning for those moments of acquisition. 

Fortunately, the medical field is always changing which allows an opportunity for new skills to develop all the time. The only difference is, sometimes the onslaught of new information can push the ground work of your professional skills to the very back of your mind. 

For this reason, I ALWAYS keep my textbooks close by. I have never gotten tired of turning to those resources and replenishing my mind. 
I have a feeling I'm not the only one!
In my opinion, if you TRULY love what you do, then it's close to impossible to feel like you have "learned enough"

I say ALL of that to say...
This post was created based on my most recent desire to flip through the pages of my Child Life textbooks.
I found that I was refreshing my memory on so many things and it started to fulfill that sense of longing I had to be back in school again.

Let's get down to business! 

I decided to refresh myself on the topic of Assessment. 
This is a monumental part of ensuring the most effective care for children and their families. 
This chart represents the idea of stress potential assessment. The chart is based on the research discussed in "Psychosocial Care of Children in Hospitals." Gaynard (and company) layout the steps it takes to effectively determine how a child and their family may react to their particular hospitalization.
The two main variables are:
1. Stress Vulnerability
2. Heath Care Variables 
Once all of these factors are taken into consideration and properly assessed, the CLS rates the child on a scale of 1-5. 
Based on the outcome of the assessment, Child Life Specialists are able to develop the appropriate plan of care for their patient and patients families. 
This tool will also act as useful information to the rest of the healthcare staff, and will be referenced and reassessed throughout the patient's hospital care. The rating can also change in either direction if/when there are any new developments in the child's state of health, emotion and/or support system. Another reason the Stress Potential Rating Scale comes in handy is for properly prioritizing and management. This scale helps make the often tough decision of who needs our services the most.

I hope this little summer refreshment was as delightful for you as it has been for me! :) 

Until next time...
I hope the rest of your summer is filled with the most sunshine, simplicity, and silliness! 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Child Life Month 2016


The month of March is dedicated to the lucky charms of the hospital... 
also known as...

During this month the CLS team always comes together to figure out new and creative ways in which they can make patients and other hospital employees aware of the multitude of ways in which they can be of service. Because there is no time to verbally explain the wonders of child life to everyone, the CLS staff has to get slightly innovative with their approach. Some of the most common ways to spread the word are through brochures, handouts and/or unit bulletin boards. The problem that follows is knowing how to make those particular innovations stand out and grab the attention of others.
Which is why I have decided to do my part this month and lend out some inspiration to my fellow Child Life friends. I will share a few of the ideas I had for making the this month a little more fun, informative and a lot more COLORFUL! :)

My first idea for this month is a fun unit bulletin board that basks in the spirit of two of my favorite reasons for March merriment...
Child Life and St. Patricks Day!! 

The idea behind this bulletin board is to not only help people recognize the faces of the Child Life staff, but it is also a way to help people find a reason to connect with them. 
This is how I have imagined it....

It can, obviously, be adapted to the personality and creative minds of your individual CLS team... 
so here are my suggestions for making this mural of marvel your own...

This bulletin will appeal to so many with its bright and cheerful decor and will leave them wanting to know each Child Life Specialist even more!! :)

Wishing you all days full of color, compassion and creativity,

(feel free to reach me at blakely@craftstocure.comcraftstocure.coml for free printable 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Marvelous March!!!

There are so many things that I love about the month of March, but the two greatest reasons for my love of this ever-so-slowly-warming month are the opportunities to celebrate Dr. Seuss and Child Life. It is so appropriate that we are able to pay reverence to these two gifts to earth during the same month, seeing as they have both contributed so greatly towards the goal of creating/preserving the importance of childhood. Here is to hoping that March not only brings you some warmth and sunshine but that it also inspires you to inspire others, just as Dr. Seuss and Child Life Specialists have been doing for so many throughout the years. Much love. -B

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Cure for Miscommunication

  While I was doing my Child Life internship, I did my first rotation in oncology. One of the first patients I met had a brain tumor in its advanced stages,  and it was quickly beginning to eliminate his motor skills one by one. By the time I had the privilege of meeting him he had already lost his ability to walk and, among other things, he was beginning to lose his ability to communicate verbally. As you can imagine this was extremely frustrating for him as well as for his care takers. Try to picture what it would be like to have needs that you once had no problem meeting on your own that you now had to not only rely on others to do for you but you also could not effectively communicate what it is you may need. All of the frustration from that on top of all of the other frustrations that a child has to endure when they are diagnosed with a critical illness. So, naturally, my goal as his child life specialist was to do WHATEVER I could possibly do to make his situation a little less stressful for both him and his family. After speaking with the family on a few different occasions I began to realize that communication seemed to be the biggest stressor within their day to day lives. The lack of effective communication would often lead to much bigger issues, and so it was clear that something needed to be done right away to help bridge this gap. 
   I immediately started trying to solve this problem and recalled something I learned about in one of my special education classes. In this particular class we learned about the various technologies and tools educators would use to help children with disabilities communicate and learn. One of the more simple technologies was picture boards. These picture boards would be a way for non-verbal children to express a need, feeling or desire. They were also a tool for learning. 
   As soon as I thought about this I asked our supervisor if we had any kind of similar tool or technology and we unfortunately did not. Although these tools seem fairly simple in concept, they do not come cheap. Knowing I did not have the time or funds to make that kind of purchase, I fell back on my computer skills and, of course, my love for a project! :) 
   My first step was to gather all of the information I had about this patient and write down the things I knew were the most frustrating for him to try and communicate. I decided on a few different conversational categories and then  made a list of common words or phrases that related to each demand or expression. 
   Once I had a pretty good idea of what words and phrases to use I then turned to my computer and tried to plan out an easy yet organized way in which to create a communication table. I decided to use Microsoft publisher because I was the most familiar with it. I created a table for each category and then began placing the words and phrases on each one. I then decided to use clip art to help make it even easier to follow and understand. 
  These are the initial steps I took in creating the tables on my computer. (FYI Microsoft Word can do the exact same things) 

 After setting up the tables the way I wanted I had to decide what would be the best way for them the be put together. I ultimately decided on making each table stand alone which meant they would be easy to focus on and also easier to carry around. I kept it simple and just put each table on a different sheet of colored card-stock and then decided to bind them all together with a small ring. 
 Once the initial cards were made I took them to my patients room and showed them to his family hoping to get a little feed back on other words or phrases they felt would be helpful to have on the cards. However, the reaction I got from his family was one that I had not anticipated and it is most certainly one that I will never forget. As soon as I showed the patients mother what I had made she burst into tears and hugged me in one of the most unforgivable embraces of my life. She was not only grateful but she was so so relieved to have some hope for communicating with her son again.   After the initial emotion settled down we then started to discuss ways in which I could make them even more specific to the needs and interests of the patient. 
 Because I saved everything I had done on my computer I was able to quickly make adjustments and changes to the tables so that they were attainable to the patient and his family ASAP. Saving those tables proved to come in handy yet again a few weeks later. Child life was called when there seemed to be an issue communicating in the PICU. Once a CLS was on the scene they discovered that the patient was a child from Haiti that had serious health issues and was brought to the USA by a couple that had been there doing missionary work. The child was apparently in some sort of turmoil and he could not communicate to the staff what it was he needed. Due to the fact that he was in PICU the family that brought him there was only permitted at the regular visiting hours, and therefore they could not be there to translate all the time. The staff in PICU were hopeful that child life would have a solution and fortunately the CLS on the scene remembered the communication cards I had made for my oncology patient. She came to me with the scenario and asked if there was any way for me to make the same kind of cards with translations in both English and Haitian-Creole. I of course wanted to help and so immediately started looking up the Haitian translations of the words already on the cards, and adjusted some of the words and phrases to better suit this particular patients needs. It was a simple solution and one that reaped great benefits! 
 An effective and reliable form of communication is often one of the greatest tools for ensuring the comfort and satisfaction of patients and their families when in a hospital setting. As a child life specialist we set out to do whatever we can to help facilitate exactly those things...and sometimes, in order to see this goal through we have to get little bit creative...
But you wont find me complaining about that :) 

Wishing everyone happy hearts and bright ideas to make these dreary winter days sparkle and shine!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My Gold Ribbon Book Selection

"The Lemonade Club" by Patricia Polacco is a beautiful book in both illustration and content. This children's book tells the story of a young girls difficult and unexpected journey with cancer, but it takes a new approach, a very much unexplored approach as far as children's literature goes. This touching story looks at the hard hitting emotions and questions that come along with most pediatric cancer diagnosis, but looks at them through the eyes of the patients classmates, peers and educator. This story is such a great source of advocacy for School Re-Entry programs. Providing a strong line of communication between chronic/terminal pediatric patients, their educators and classmates is so tremendously important and so frequently overlooked in times of distress. This book demonstrates the emotional support and powerful healing that can come from within a hospitalized child's classroom. I highly recommend ANY educator to take time to read this story, and even take it one step further and share it with your students. Allow it to be an opportunity for discussion. Why wait for these unfortunate and delicate situations to hit home? Approach it now! Preparing young minds for the world is what we as educators set our hearts on and I hope that this book can help inspire you to further educate your students and yourself on matters such as the ones unfolded in "The Lemonade Club."

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September has arrived and with it comes one of the greatest opportunities!! Every September is a chance to spread awareness about children fighting cancer. Childhood cancer is the leading cause of death from disease in children and by raising awareness we can help find a cure and give hope to those awaiting a miracle. Crafts to Cure fully intends to bring awareness all month long by sharing stories, facts, and ways to get involved in the fight for a cure. My hope is that all month long you will help spread Childhood Cancer Awareness like WILDFLOWERS,so that our world will no longer have to lose some of our most precious flowers to such a horrible disease
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia created this awesome look into some of the statistical reasons pediatric cancer patients need our help spreading the word
Although much of what is shown in this flyer may not be what automatically pulls at your heartstrings, like most things surrounding childhood cancer awareness, it is proof that there is more to be done to advocate for these incredibly brave children. Dollar signs and numbers aren't typically what make people feel drawn or connected to this cause, and those things are, by no means, the most important aspects. On the other hand, they are in large part the reason people need to become more aware of the issues accompanying these diagnoses. Cancer research has come so far in the past few decades and there has been tremendous progress and success in some of the new drugs and treatments that are now available. HOWEVER, most of these new treatments aren't meant for pediatrics. Subsequently, children are still receiving treatments from the 1950's, 60's and 70's. According to ACCO, in the past 20 years only ONE new drug was developed exclusively for pediatric cancer patients due, in part, to the idea that pediatric cancer is still too rare, and developing a new drug may not be "cost effective." Yet, another statistic from the past 20 years shows a 29% increase in the number of pediatric cases. I know I may not know ALL the in's and out's of why these numbers are what they are, but it doesn't make them any less heartbreaking and disappointing when I think about the sweet little angels that are waiting for them to change. I can confidently say that you will only be left with a comforting warmth in your heart if you take the time to donate to a cause as precious as childhood cancer research... so I am hoping these tid-bits of info can at least spark some inspiration in you to learn more and make a difference!

Here are a couple of places to make donations:


Donating money IS NOT your only option! There are so many other ways you can help make a difference in these children's lives, and I assure you they will make quite a difference in yours. Volunteering is one of the greatest ways to help support this cause, and there are several ways you can get involved. The Children's Cancer Research Fund has several options to help get you to a place where you can donate your time and wonderful energy...which in my opinion is sometimes just as great, if not better than, anything else! 

If nothing else I hope everyone can spend the month reflecting on how much more joyful, colorful and magical our world is because of the children among us. We owe not only them, but ourselves more time to relish in the midst of such purity. 

My Love, Hope and Best Wishes to you ALL,