Breanna is a Child Life Counsellor (CLC), who works in NICU and Pediatrics, supporting patients and family members during their hospital stay. This new role at HSN, funded by the NEO Kids Foundation, is a welcome addition that is improving the patient experience. Caring for younger patients who may be dealing with a broad range of illnesses, some critical, involves more than treating their physical ailments. Young patients often need help understanding and navigating the process of their illness – to help reduce any anxiety that they may feel.
CLCs play a critical role in a child’s mental and emotional well-being when they are faced with medical stresses. They are a bridge between the realities of the healthcare environment and the needs of the child and family. With the use of play and psychological preparation, CLCs facilitate necessary coping and adjustment when patients and their families are faced with an admission.
Reducing medical trauma through developmentally appropriate explanations and medical play is a main focus for the CLCs. “We have a conversation with the child about any possible misconceptions they may have and help them make sense of what they will experience,” said Breanna. “We incorporate medical play at times, like putting an IV in the child’s stuffed toy to show them how it is done, letting them do a set of vitals on us before we do it to them, or be present when there is a blood draw to offer some distraction or come up with comfort planning.”
On average, CLCs see about 100-120 children a month at HSN – helping to improve the overall patient experience of the pediatric patient population!