Honoring child life specialists

By: Special to The Times

UNION COUNTY — March is acknowledged as child life specialist month worldwide, and this month Hands of Hope will honor Child Life Specialists in our community, and increase awareness of the importance of their work.

Many people are still unaware of the functions of a child life specialist, but many families in our community benefit from the expertise of child life specialists.

Child life specialists specialize in child development and stick to the ideology of family- oriented care. Equipped with professional expertise, they help ease the anxiety of children and their families while they are undergoing difficult healthcare situations and other mishaps of life.

Child life specialists are available in different areas of hospitals, such as the following: emergency department, patient rooms, surgical areas, and pediatric and neonatal ICUs.

They prepare children for difficult medical procedures by providing developmentally-appropriate explanations, by planning and practicing coping skills, and engaging children in play activities with therapeutic and diversionary objectives.

“Every child life specialist shares in the professional responsibility to reduce the negative impact of stressful life events on the health and well-being of children and families, says Erin Munn, President of Child Life Council. “One important component of this mission is educating the public about the needs of children.”

Child life specialists have a minimum educational requirement of bachelor’s or master’s degree, and many have participated in extensive professional certification processes.

This month, Hands of Hope will honor child life specialists in a number of ways. They will educate the community about the role and importance of child life specialists, and displaying their appreciation towards child life specialists by presenting them a small gift.

About Hands of Hope

For more information on how Hands of Hope is celebrating Child Life Specialist Month, please contact Director of Hands of Hope Sheri Stewart at 864-909-7166 or via email at sheri.stewart@handsofhopesc.net.

Caring for a child with a life limiting illness is challenging. It demands complete understanding of the whole child and family; it requires recognition of the child’s developmental, psychological, physical, spiritual and emotional needs. It is respecting family dynamics, cultural and ethnic differences. Whether the child is at home, in the hospital or transitioning in between, our team members are exceptional, not just in terms of their clinical skills but in their ability to timely respond to the child and family’s needs with sensitivity and compassion.

We have leaders who strive for excellence and who expect the same level of commitment from all team members. We consider our staff our best resource. We have team members from all disciplines that are nationally certified in hospice/palliative care. We have nationally certified End of Life Nursing Education Consortium (ELNEC) faculty members with specialized training in pain and symptom management, communication strategies, care at the end of life, ethics and cultural considerations. These faculty members not only educate the family, but train healthcare professional’s within the community. Among our wealth of expertise, from executive level leadership to our direct care providers, we have staff members who serve on national and state committees advocating for pediatric hospice care and public policy change

Hospice Care of South Carolina has been serving our communities for almost two decades, with recognition as the leading provider of hospice and continuous (crisis) care statewide. Some of our accomplishments include: 2012 Employer of the Year Award by the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses; Recognition for patient advocacy in 2010 by the National Hospice/Palliative Care Organization. Hands of Hope employs specialists in pediatric care which includes nurses, medical social workers and chaplains; we have certified child life specialists and bereavement coordinators. Our staff understands and integrates fundamental knowledge and expertise in child development and family systems.

March is Child Life Specialist Month

Special to The Times

This story was submitted by Hospice Care of South Carolina.

This story was submitted by Hospice Care of South Carolina.