Child Life Services

Children Process Information from the World Around Them Differently than Adults, Therefore They have Distinct Needs for Managing the Effects of Stress and Trauma.

Good Shepherd Hospice provides a variety of comprehensive services designed to meet the needs of grieving families and children. Our services are available to both the families of patients who have been on Good Shepherd Hospice as well as members of our community who have experienced the loss of a loved one. And all of our services are provided free of charge. Our staff brings a wide range of skills and experiences to their care of families and children who experience loss including specializations in trauma, early childhood and child development and family counseling. Our staff will work with you to provide counseling on a short term individual basis or in groups. If you require long term or ongoing services, our staff will work with you to find the best resources in the community to meet your needs.

Without the assistance of a professional who understands their unique perspective, children of all ages may experience emotions such as fear, shame, confusion and loneliness, which can inhibit their natural development, and have lasting negative effects on their wellbeing. Child Life Specialists provide support, developmentally appropriate education and age specific tools for families to work together through stressful times. They promote effective coping through play, self-expression activities, and age-appropriate medical preparation and education. As advocates of family-centered care, child life specialists work in partnership with doctors, nurses, social workers and others to meet the unique emotional, developmental and cultural needs of each child and family.

At Good Shepherd Hospice, our Child Life program is unique because, while traditional child life programs are usually hospital based, we will be providing this valuable service in a combination of our inpatient center, patient homes and in collaboration with the other members of the hospice team. As we are all aware, our hospice and community families often include children who are experiencing loss at the same time as their adult family members, which may make those adults less available to support these children. As members of the interdisciplinary hospice team, Child Life Specialists help prepare children for some of life’s most challenging situations using their strong background in child development theories. These are some of the ways our Child Life Specialists work with our families:

  • Education and consultations
  • Medical play and medical art activities
  • Developmental support
  • Emotional Support
  • Pre and Post Bereavement Support
  • Legacy Building and Active Memory Making Moments
  • Individual sessions
  • Group sessions
  • Preparation and information regarding burial rituals
  • Sibling support

Child Life Specialists help the adult figures in the children’s lives to find developmentally appropriate ways to share information and can provide parents and grandparents with developmentally supportive language for children and teens. They work with the entire family and provide individualized care for each family. Recognizing that there are many types of grief and loss Child Life Specialists also support families and schools in the community who have experienced the death of a loved one.