Child Life

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with the passionate and knowledgeable Child Life team at Riley Hospital for Children. Child life specialists work hard to ensure that children and families receive the emotional and educational support they need during hospitalization. This includes preparing children for the unfamiliar and often stressful or frightening settings and equipment encountered during medical procedures. Even though the procedure is for the child’s benefit and everyone involved wants what is best for them, the fear of the unknown can still render the experience overwhelming for the child.

Reducing the fear of the unknown

A fantastic group of project managers, developers and QA testers at eimagine, along with a media production team from Scofield Editorial, scoped out a project with the child life specialists at Riley which aims to help kids minimize the fear of the unknown by allowing them to explore the unfamiliar settings ahead of time on an iPad. We then built the app and released it into Apple’s app store as the Riley Child Life Tour. The app includes an interactive map and panoramic room views which the children can explore, as well as close-up photos and videos of individual objects, procedures and events encountered within those rooms. The child life specialists at Riley are equipped with iPads which they can use to take Riley Child Life Tour to the kids and explain what is on the screen. In addition, because the app is freely available in the app store we hope that both families and other child life professionals will find it useful.

iPads in use

Riley is a leader when it comes to child life, so it is no surprise that they are an early adopter of the iPad as a tool for education and distraction in the hospital. However, child life teams at other children’s hospitals around the country are finding the iPad useful as well. The iPad is an ideal tool for use with children because it is relatively inexpensive, very easy to use and provides access to content as diverse as movies, TV shows, games (such as Angry Birds), web sites, email, Facebook and apps from Apple’s app store. At the time of this writing the app store contains over 500,000 apps and the number is growing daily. Dayton Children’s Hospital, Shriners Hospital for Children-Chicago and St. Louis Children’s Hospital are just a few of the other hospitals who have recognized the benefits of the iPad and are currently using the tablets as part of their child life program.

Interested in learning more?

Check out the description, screenshots and download link for Riley Child Life Tour on the app’s info page and let us know what you think!

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