Make a Child's Day While They are In the Hospital
For many children, going to the hospital is a frightening thing. Our job as nurses is to make our young patients feel as comfortable as possible during their stay at the hospital. This task is easier said than done, especially when it comes to children. Here is a list of ideas you can use to help your younger patients feel more at ease:Draw on the Exam Table
One of the first things a child will see at a doctor's visit is the examination table, which can be intimidating to small children. To relieve their anxiety, draw a fun cartoon or colorful scene! Don't forget to personalize it with their name!
Provide First Aid for Their Stuffed Animal
Many children are so nervous when going to the hospital that often times they will bring with their favorite stuffed animal. Most of these stuffed animals will have rips and tears. Repair those rips and tears by stitching, casing, or bandaging it. This will make the child feel like they are not going through this alone, especially if they are undergoing surgery.
Throw a Party
Some children, as you know, are in the hospital for a long period of time. They might even be there over their birthday or holiday. To bring a bit of home into the hospital, throw a party for them. The party doesn't need to be extravagant or very long (as nurses have busy and fast-paced schedules). It can be as simple as singing, playing music, doing a simple art project and playing fun game.
Decorate the Pediatrics Unit
The overall décor of a room can affect your patient's mood. Suggest to management that the pediatrics unit needs a makeover. Each room can have its own theme such as: underwater, jungle, rock n' roll, outer space, whimsical, sports, or superhero. Although this can be costly, the joy on a child's face when they walk into a decorated room is priceless.
Window Washer Superheroes
One group of window washers decided to surprise patients by dressing up as superheroes while they were washing windows! This is something you can coordinate at your hospital too, and is something a child will remember forever, and just maybe, it will make them excited to be at the hospital. If you can't get your window washers to dress up, ask staff at your clinic if they would be willing to dress up and visit the pediatrics unit.
Talk to Them
Sometimes having a nice talk with children is the best way to cure their fear of a hospital. This helps build a level of trust. The conversation doesn't have to be about their illness or procedure. It is actually better to talk to them about their interests and hobbies. Remember, have fun when talking to children!
How have you gone out of your way to make a pediatric patient's day? Just a little effort on your part can go a long way to make a child more comfortable.
About Brian, ADN
Brian has '18+' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'CCU, Geriatrics, Critical Care, Tele'. From 'Minnesota'; Joined Mar '98; Posts: 15,436; Likes: 16,373.Feb 20, '14I work peds and I love how they personalize a lot of the medical care for the kids. :-) I have started many IV's on stuffed animals.
A couple of years ago my grandma had to stay in the hospital for several days. When visiting her I was struck by how drab the unit was, and how de-personalized it was. I mean they were nice and the hospital was the best in the area and her care was great. But there were no colors, no pretty pictures on the walls, no "Welcome Grandma!" on the white board, no heart-shaped bandages or comfort food ready to order from the menu. They did, however, have a nice "Sundowner's Club" volunteer. I think a hospital would be a lot less depressing and scary for adult patients if we applied similar ideas for them. After all, hospitals can bring out a lot of the same phobias in adults as in children.Feb 20, '14I had to take my son in one time when he hit his head years ago and he had his beat up Curious George monkey with him. The nurse at the time to the time to dress the monkey up in a gown and listen to his heart and take his temp. It meant the world to me that he was making my son comfortable. It even helped calm me down a little.Feb 21, '14When I did home health peds, I would read them their favorite books or watch cartoons with them.
I loved entering into their world!
Feb 21, '14I always love to talk with children. I make sure that they are happy. I communicate well with them to make them happy. Spending time a lot of talking.Feb 24, '14Know popular cartoons for young kids! Singing "Time for your check-up! Time for your check-up!" can make listening to lung sounds a breeze. (For those of you w/o kids, youtube "Doc McStuffins)Feb 24, '14These are all very wonderful ideas, I've seen some of them practiced in the real word and the kids respond very well to them. Its so true that somthing as simple as putting a baidaid on their favorite stuffed animal can bring them an often much needed comfort. This is a fine example of what it really means to be a nurse, to care in everyway for someone in need. A nurses should always care to a patients emotional needs as well as their medical needs. Ideals like these are the reason I chose to go to school for nursing.Feb 25, '14Isolation stethoscopes make awesome items for young ones too. I've given some of my curious preschool to school-aged patients one of their own for their 'doctor bags' at home - particularly the 'Doc McStuffins' fans. They have a lot of fun listening to their toys, their parents, and the staff while pretending to be a doctor or nurse - and it allows the nursing staff to leave the room with their own stethoscopes still in hand.Feb 25, '14I work in PICU and every night, I tell my patient(s) that they were just elected Patient of the Day and I award them a book from our collection of donated books.Feb 25, '14I just finished a peds rotation on a heme/onc floor and was introduced to one of the coolest / smartest things I've ever seen - Chemo Duck (chemoduck.org). It has a central line that you can actually flush and care for like the line in the patient. My patient's "Ducky" was instrumental in helping her deal with her continuous pulse ox because we were able to put one on him too for the hour she was being monitored. Seeing some of these suggestions makes me want to go back to that rotation, but I will remember these for future practice because they definitely beat the glove balloon animals that I remember my sister getting 20ish years ago.Mar 3, '14I love <3 the idea of using the stuffed animal or toy to she what you are going to do to the child. It must truly put them more at ease. Plus I have heard about the super heroes washing the hospital windows… what a perfect idea. I have been blessed that my son never need to stay at the hospital when he was young!!! Thank you to all the peds nurses out that for having that special talent!!!Mar 3, '14Recently I accompanied my patient & sibling to the hospital for a day long series of outpatient appointments. Patient is easy going but brother was getting restless. Out comes the sharpie to design a custom race track complete with name & decor for the matchbox cars. Both boys were thrilled and mom was happy to. She jokes that my creativity is why she keeps me around. (I work with medically complex & fragile children in home health/private duty. Trying to keep them out of PICU and home as long as possible)
I also made a custom Halloween costume with my patient that encompassed his Convaid wheelchair out of cardboard boxes. & "Duck" tape. It's nice to make the "differently abled" child feel like the coolest at least one day a year.Mar 17, '14JustBeachy - It was nice to see your "differently-abled" comment. I tell my kids the same thing....we are all differently-abled. I so dislike the term "disabled". I understand its official use, but hate to hear it used in conversation when referring to people. I guarantee that person in the wheelchair (on crutches, with Downs, or any other affliction) possesses qualities that others are sorely lacking. Their abilities may be less obvious but they are "abled".