Child Life Services and Treatment | Children's Health | Loyola Medicine

Child Life Services

Supporting Child Development and Coping Skills When at the Hospital

Child life at Loyola Medicine strives to promote optimal development of children and adolescents, assist families in maintaining a normal living pattern and minimize the psychological stress that often comes with hospitalization. As part of an integrated treatment team, child life provides opportunities for your child to gain a sense of mastery through play, continue on the path of learning and boost their spirit and self-esteem through self-expression.

Loyola’s child life staff consists of one child life specialist and approximately 25 volunteers who provide services and support to patients and families. The child life team provides guidance during admission, tests, surgeries and other medical procedures, whether in the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital at Loyola University Medical Center or other Loyola office locations. This can include support for children within different pediatric areas, including pediatric critical care, burn/trauma unit, outpatient clinics, radiology and the emergency department.

Loyola’s child life specialist also provides assistance as your family prepares for scheduled procedures. This specialist works with our social work staff to be an advocate and facilitator for each family during post-operative care and as your family prepares to return home.

Through the child life program, children and their families may receive hands-on tours prior to hospitalization so that they can familiarize themselves with their surroundings. To learn more about the program and its services, call 708-216-3161.

Why Choose Loyola for Child Life Services?

Loyola is committed to the compassionate diagnosis and care of our youngest patients. Our pediatric specialists understand the unique needs of children and provide the most advanced and precise treatment options available. Loyola’s staff is specially trained in the treatment of children and provides care in a compassionate, family-friendly environment. 

Loyola’s faculty and staff recognize that a medical emergency or a trip to the hospital can be an extremely difficult experience for a child. That’s why we offer the world-class services of our child life team, guiding children and their families through play, preparation and education. This support service is one component of Loyola’s commitment to treating the mind, body and spirit.

We hope you will feel comfortable asking for any support you may need. Loyola is committed to supporting the families of our pediatric patients undergoing treatment for a wide range of conditions and diseases. We want you to know that your child’s healthcare team will address all of your concerns and make your child’s care our number one priority.

What Child Life Services are Available at Loyola?

Loyola’s child life specialist helps children understand and express their feelings about the sometimes overwhelming experience of being hospitalized. We help children identify and address specific fears or misconceptions about their healthcare using proven tools and coping strategies, such as:

  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Music and art projects
  • Play therapy

Loyola’s child life staff will help patients and families adjust and cope with the medical setting and better understand the treatment process. Our services include:

  • Advocating for a family
  • Coping strategies
  • Medical preparation and explanations of procedures
  • Pain management techniques
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Support for siblings and parents
  • Therapeutic music
  • Therapeutic play

Recreational Activities and Services to Advance Child Development

A specially trained child life volunteer can be a child’s new-found friend. Under the supervision of the child life specialist, the volunteer provides playroom supervision or plays one-on-one with a child who is restricted to bed rest. The volunteer also gives parents the peace of mind that their child will be a bit less lonely or frightened when they must briefly leave the bedside. A volunteer will visit, read, watch movies or play with the child. They are happy to assist the family whenever they are available.

The Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital at Loyola University Medical Center was built with children and families in mind. Loyola’s child life team manages several spaces that offer diversions and recreation for young patients:

  • In the Michael Carta teen room, teens and adolescents can find an oasis of fun and electronic media. The space features two flat-screen TVs, as well as Wii, Xbox and PlayStation® video game systems.
  • The music therapy program serves children with particularly acute needs who lack a full range of social and emotional stimulation due to extended hospitalizations. Here, children are encouraged to play an instrument, learn how it was made and see how it functions.
  • Radio ECHO (Every Child Has Opportunities) is a nationally recognized working radio station inside the hospital. Patients, families and staff participate in all aspects of the station's programming. Radio ECHO volunteers bring live and recorded games and entertainment to your bedside through TV channels 54 and 55. 

Your donation of a toy can help children during their hospital stay.