Child Life Program
When children are hospitalized it can be a frightening experience for the child and the family. The University of Florida at Shands Jacksonville offers a Child Life Program to help children cope and adjust during their stay in the hospital. The mission of the program is to comfort and educate. The program dedicates resources to reduce the stressful or emotionally traumatic impact of hospitalization as it relates to the development, health, and well-being of pediatric-aged patients and their families.
Medically fragile pediatric, neonatal, and Level I trauma patients are treated in the inpatient pediatric units. The Child Life Program plans and implements therapeutic activities that promote normal growth and development during a hospital stay. Coping skill education, procedural preparation and support, medical play, expressive arts, and socialization are used to encourage patient and family comfort. An expedited healing process and improved patient wellbeing are benefits of Child Life care.
Pediatric Emergency Department Services
When emergent services are required to treat illness and injury, the Child Life Program helps children and families manage the stress of their condition. Developmentally friendly activities include education, support, and normalization of activities and the environment. Knowledge, diversion, and distraction assist children in understanding and adapting to their medical care. The benefits of Child Life care include increased patient cooperation with their treatment plan and improved patient satisfaction.
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
While in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) your family and newborn may receive support from a certified child life specialist in various ways. A certified child life specialist in the NICU is specially trained in child development and assisting patients and families in coping with hospitalization.
How We Help Newborns
- Providing developmentally supportive play.
- Promoting positive touch.
- Supplying and utilizing bedside toys and music.
- Providing support during stressful or painful procedures.
How We Help Caregivers
- Providing emotional support, education, and resources.
- Promoting ways for families to assist in supporting and caring for their baby during daily care and painful or stressful procedures.
- Ways for families to learn about the NICU and the hospital environment.
- Ways to help families with their other children. For example, explaining why the baby is in the hospital, supporting the other children with separation anxiety from parents, and bonding with their new sibling.
- Promote creative ways for families to bond and capture their special moments in the NICU.
Resources We Provide
- Comfort Cart
- Snack Cart
- Developmentally appropriate toys
- Therapeutic and educational literature