The mission of the Child Life Department at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital is to advocate for the psychosocial, developmental, emotional and educational needs of all our patients and families. Child Life Specialists strive to create a supportive environment, while helping empower patients and their families to make decisions affecting their care.
Programs and Services
Our Child Life Specialists help your family have a positive experience during your child's outpatient visit or hospital stay. As members of your healthcare team, they work directly with you and your child to reduce anxiety and stress during medical procedures or hospitalization. Our staff introduces books, toys, games and educational play activities that help your child cope with their medical care.
What is Child Life?
Child Life Specialists are the voice for patients while they are in the hospital. They communicate patients' individual and developmental needs, coping styles and other assessments to staff and family members.
The death of a loved one is always a difficult experience. Learning to cope with the loss can also be challenging. Everyone grieves in their own unique way.
Children, especially young children, can also have a difficult time understanding what death means and beginning the grieving process. Child life specialists, because of their background in child development, can help explain to children at their level what death means using books, play, and art activities. Specialists can also provide support to children and families facing a loss that will help them begin the grieving process in a positive way.
The hospitalization of a patient can be unexpected, traumatic and sometimes frightening for family members. In addition to providing psychosocial and developmental support to patients, the Child Life Specialists also help siblings of various ages understand and cope with the hospitalization of a family member.
Child Life Specialists are responsible for training and supervising volunteers participating in the Child Life program. The Child Life staff also teach new pediatric staff about the role of Child Life Specialists at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital and the use of therapeutic play.
Medical play encourages patients to express fears, discuss misconceptions and gain a sense of control and understanding about what is happening to their bodies. Through medical play with dolls and medical equipment, a Child Life Specialist can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety that patients may experience.
Child Life Specialists help take away stress and anxiety by providing age appropriate education and coping techniques to help patients through difficult experiences. Child Life Specialists are available to provide support to parents and encourage the need to be involved, informed and active in their child's care. In addition, Child Life Specialists promote the importance of peer and sibling interactions.
Child Life Specialists provide activities and opportunities for patients to gain a sense of control over their hospital experience. The activities facilitate self-expression, learning, continued growth and development.
For more information about the Child Life department please visit cardinalglennon.com.
Preparing Children for Medical Procedures
Children face many new and often stressful experiences during their outpatient treatment or hospital stay. Child Life specialists use pictures, books, puppets / dolls and realistic medical equipment to help prepare children in age-appropriate ways. We provide emotional support and teach techniques to help your child cope and relax.
Familiar and fun activities can help children feel less anxious about their fears and concerns related to unfamiliar surroundings, people and events. Our inpatient playrooms provide toys, games, art, books, movies and music to help children feel more comfortable. We offer age-appropriate activity centers including an infant/toddler room, a school-age room, and a teen room.
Siblings of patients are welcome to visit the activity centers when accompanied by an adult and when visitor restrictions are not in place.