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About Le Bonheur Children's Child Life Department

I have to pleasure of being the director of one of the most interesting departments in all of Le Bonheur Children’s, Child Life Services. We are a department that helps to make a children’s hospital a “children’s hospital.” There is a broad range of services and programs offered through child life and my hope is to share those with you.

When our child life specialist first interact with families, a common questions that we get is “what is child life?” Well, I’m glad you asked. The Child Life Council, the professional organizations for the field of child life, states that:

Child life specialists are experts in child development, who promote effective coping through play, preparation, education, and self-expression activities. They provide emotional support for families, and encourage optimum development of children facing a broad range of challenging experiences, particularly those related to healthcare and hospitalization. Understanding that a child’s wellbeing depends on the support of the family, child life specialists provide information, support and guidance to parents, siblings, and other family members. They also play a vital role in educating caregivers, administrators, and the general public about the needs of children under stress.

So, with that being said, what does a child life, and child life specialist, mean to you in the hospital? The role of child life at Le Bonheur Children’s is to help make your experience with the hospital, illness, injury, medical experience, et cetera, less stressful. The unknown of the hospital can make it a scarier environment, and child life strives to make sure patients, parents, siblings, and families understand what to expect. That might come in the form of teaching children about a medical procedure in terms that they can understand. Letting them be the doctor or the nurse as we play out the upcoming medical procedure out. A child life specialist might distract a child during a painful procedure, using coping skills the child has already learned.

Here at Le Bonheur Children’s, child life does a great deal of work with the patient directly, but we also work with families. We help to explain what’s happening with to their brother or sister to siblings. Or we might give parents an opportunity to express themselves through any number of different activities or interventions. There are even experiences that child life does geared towards the entire family, include Dinner and a Movie and numerous unit specific activities.

However, there are lots of activities and events that child life provides to make the hospital a fun place. Take, for instance, our closed circuit television station, Studio 8. We broadcast call-in game shows 5 or 6 times a week, and have a Good Morning Le Bonheur Television program. Or perhaps you might be in the hospital during some of our crazy parties. For instance, every September 19 we celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Child life has playrooms to come play in, and a Teen Room to come chill in (for those patients and siblings 12 and over). I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on the special groups.

Our goal is to make the hospital experience as smooth as possible and to look out for your psychological and social needs. Which in hospital talk, we call psychosocial needs. So, if you and your family find yourselves at Le Bonheur Children’s Medical Center, ask to see one of the child life specialists. We’re here to help!

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Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center is a leading children's hospital in the Mid South, providing pediatric care to children from 95 counties in six states.
50 N. Dunlap Street, Memphis, Tennessee 38103 • (901) 287-KIDS