As certified child life specialists with Beaumont Children’s, our role in the hospital is unique. We are trained professionals in the developmental impact of illness and injury. But what does that even mean?
What we do
Child life specialists help infants, children, youth and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss and bereavement. We provide evidence-based, developmentally and psychologically appropriate interventions, which include therapeutic play; preparation for procedures; and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. We work with the multidisciplinary team, as well as the entire family, to meet the needs of patients, siblings and parents alike to promote a culture of family-centered care throughout all hospital encounters.
We help children by:
- Educating them on diagnosis, procedures and treatment plans through the use of medical play.
- Preparing for tests, procedures, and/or surgeries (patients, siblings and family).
- Supporting them during invasive procedures through the use of distraction and coping skills.
- Engaging patients in therapeutic and expressive activities to help them cope with fears and anxiety.
- Advocating for the unique needs of patients and families during and after hospitalization.
- Promoting family-centered care through psychosocial and emotional support.
- Normalizing the hospital environment in an effort to promote optimal growth and development.
In order to create a comforting and normalizing environment for patients and families, our department provides additional services. These include pet therapy visits, daily recreational activities that give patients an opportunity to meet and socialize with one another, and special events like our annual holiday parties and Dream Cruise Parade. We also have a schoolteacher and board-certified music therapist on staff.
Where we work within the hospital
Beaumont child life specialists cover multiple areas, including the Center for Children’s Surgery, Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, the inpatient Pediatric and Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Short Stay and the Emergency Center. We also have part-time coverage at Beaumont, Troy in its inpatient pediatric unit and emergency center.
Our department attempts to see all children who are hospitalized to provide an assessment of their coping and psychosocial needs. Much like other disciplines, we receive consults from the medical team for patients and families in need.
Child Life Services is able to do this with the support of Children’s Miracle Network. We hope to expand our services in the future to reach all pediatric patients in Beaumont Health, including the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, pediatric specialty clinics, Pediatric Radiology, etc. We truly love what we do as well as the patients and families we serve!
Favorite moments from our child life specialists
- “I had a patient who was afraid of her anesthesia mask. I built rapport with the patient and got her to engage in activities with me to build rapport and trust. I provided preparation with the anesthesia mask to help her become familiar with it. I was able to have her lay down while I was blowing bubbles at her. In the end, she was breathing with the anesthesia mask on while popping bubbles to make it less traumatic.”
- “We had a 4-year-old who refused to walk admitted to the pediatric unit. She wouldn’t even walk to the playroom. We brought in our pet therapy dog and she walked the dog around the unit multiple times.”
- “A 7-year-old in the emergency room was screaming and crying whenever a nurse tried to touch her cut. I overheard the nurse say they were going to sedate this patient in order to clean out her wound. After talking calmly with this little girl and explaining (in a developmentally appropriate manner) the procedure of cleaning out her wound, she realized it wasn’t so scary. She engaged in deep breathing with me as the nurse cleaned and wrapped her cut without having to sedate her.”
- “There was an 11-year-old patient who had severe second degree burn. The patient was extremely anxious and fearful of the painful daily dressing changes and physical therapy sessions. After a medical play session and extensive preparation, the patient worked with me to come up with a positive coping plan that included deep breathing, use of a stress ball, parental presence, and taking 10-second breaks every minute. All of these things helped with coping and compliance with the treatments she was undergoing during this stressful hospitalization.”
- “A 10-year-old patient came to the emergency center and needed an IV. Her nurse informed me that this patient was very anxious and could use child life services for preparation and procedural support. I worked with this patient by providing education, preparation, and familiarization so that she knew what to expect during the procedure. To provide her with more control and mastery, she performed the procedure on a medical play doll before her own IV start. When it came time for her IV, she was no longer anxious and knew exactly what to expect and how to help make it less painful with deep breathing and distraction.”
- “I helped create a school program that was manageable for a heart transplant patient. All of his second semester of senior year was spent inpatient. Even though every day was a challenge for him, he was able to graduate on time with his class!” – Schoolteacher
- “I have many favorite memories of being a music therapist, but there are two that stand out above the rest. My first memory is of a cancer patient using songwriting through her journey and how she used music to express her emotions. The second is developing a heartbeat bereavement program to give parents the gift of music and a piece of their child to hold on to.” – Music Therapist
– Beaumont Children’s Child Life Team: Lisa Kristoff (CCLS), Rose Freigeh (CCLS), Michelle Staubach (CCLS), Amanda Lefkof (CCLS), Jenn Ernst (CCLS), Caroline Wall (CCLS), Holly Platis (MT-BC), Janis Traynor (Schoolteacher), Kathleen Grobbel (CCLS, Manager)