Health care experiences can be stressful for children and youth. These experiences may cause fear, confusion, and changes in behaviour. Children and youth need to know what is happening to them. With the help of child life staff, children and youth can control these feelings and learn to cope with their hospitalization and healthcare experiences through play, music, education, and support.
How we help
The strategies and tools Child Life Services offer include the following:
- Age-appropriate explanations of hospital experiences
- Preparation for stressful events at the hospital
- Development of a coping plan
- Support during and after stressful events such as medical procedures
- Therapeutic play – ways to express feelings and concerns
- Play and activities in the activity areas and at the bedside
- Supporting children’s development
- Psychosocial support for brothers and sisters
- Psychosocial support and education for parents
- Advocacy for the psychosocial needs of the child/youth and family
The hospital experience can be positive for children if they know what to expect. Children who are aware of what they will see and do are generally less anxious than children who have no information. Regardless of age, most children want to know what will happen to them at the hospital, whether they will be harmed, if you will be with them, and when they will be going home. It is normal for children to have fears about going to the hospital. Children and youth will need validation of their feeling, support, and a plan to cope. You may not know all the answers, but your child will recognize and appreciate your attempts, to be honest, and supportive with them.
Child Life Television (CL-TV)
Child Life Television (CL-TV) is Child Life's closed circuit television network. CL-TV broadcasts on channel 78 throughout the Children’s and Link Bulding.
Bravery Bead Program
The Bravery Heart Bead Program is meant to help children, youth and families who are experiencing a serious illness to collect beads that represent their unique journey. Each bead is a symbol of a procedure or aspect of health care. The collection of beads tells a story of challenges and strength. Click here to learn more about Bravery Beads.
Child Life Activity Areas
Activity areas are located on the 6th and 7th floor of the Link Building. These areas are supervised by child life workers who provide programming which includes planned therapeutic activities, developmentally appropriate play, and special events/visitors. These are safe spaces for inpatients and their families to relax in, play with or borrow toys, games, and crafts.
Teen lounge located on the 6th Floor, Children’s Building, is a therapeutic space that supports the healing process for children, youth and families. It has been designed for hospitalized adolescents ages 12 and older with a pool table, air hockey, video games, movies, crafts, computer access, and much more! The Teen Lounge is a great space for inpatient teens, their friends and family to socialize, try new activities, while providing distraction and normalizing the hospital environment.
Child Life Services oversees the staffing, utilization and activity programming in the Teen Lounge. There are designated Teen Lounge program hours Monday-Saturday for inpatients to participate in group programming, however child life programming can extend out into this therapeutic space throughout the day.
Youth Advisory Council- YAC
The Youth Advisory Council is for ages 13-18, from anywhere in the Maritimes, who want to:
- Help staff see the hospital through the eyes of the patient and their family
- Make changes within the hospital to help patients and their families
- Not only be heard, be listened to!
- YAC is made up of current and former patients, family members, and youth from the community
For more information on YAC, please visit the page under "Get Involved".
Special Visitors Information and Application
Having special visitors and entertainment for patients and families has incredible benefits. Often a magic show, craft workshop, musical event, or a visit from their favourite celebrity will be a highlight of the day or even the hospital experience.
Child Life Services strives to provide these unique opportunities to the children. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to you for offering to donate your time to help make the hospitalization and illness process a more positive experience for all. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 902.470.8426 to request an application or with questions.
We are always appreciative of what members of our community are able to offer. Your donations may be used in the Activity Areas, Teen Lounge, given directly to patients, or for a special event such as Christmas or a birthday.
Donations of brand new items may be dropped off at the IWK Health Centre by coordinating an appointment with the Child Life Administrative Assistant at 902.470.8426.
The Child Life Services Team
Child Life Specialists
Child life specialists have expertise in helping children and their families cope with life’s most challenging events. With a strong background in child development and family systems, child life specialists promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families and encourage the ongoing development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization
Child Life Workers
Child Life workers have expertise in child development. They provide developmentally appropriate play and expressive activities for patients and their families in the activity areas and at the bedside.
Child Life's Music Therapist uses music to help children, youth, and families improve coping skills as a way of expression and adjusting to health experiences.
The IWK's Therapeutic Clown helps children, youth, and their families cope with potential stress associated with illness, injury, and health care experiences. This is accomplished through play, humour, and the establishment of supportive and empowering therapeutic relationships between the clown and their friends.
Our Administrative Assistant supports the administrative needs of the Child Life Team and coordinates special visitors and donations.