The outpatient world moves quickly. Your patient comes in for their scheduled appointment, you say hi and provide a brief preparation before the rest of the staff come in to get the procedure started. The procedure or hospital visit ends, the patient and family leave, and you’re on to your next appointment. So how can child life specialists optimize the support we provide for these patients and their families? One solution I have found is making phone calls to families.
After working in radiology, surgery, and as a member of the behavioral safety team, I’ve spent my fair share of time on the phone. I’ve provided detailed explanations and preparation materials to parents to share with their child prior to an MRI. I’ve discussed how families may cope with surgery visits and what supports might make their time in pre-op more comfortable. Currently I work with our behavioral safety team discussing patient’s behaviors and support needs prior to a visit to keep patients and caregivers safe while getting patients’ essential medical care. In all these roles, a phone call has been a valuable tool in helping me assess, prepare, and support before the patient even arrives at the hospital.
A pre-admission phone call gives the Certified Child Life Specialists (CCLSs) a chance to assess the patient and family without the hustle and bustle of the hospital. Assessment is one of the most integral and basic roles of a child life specialist (Turner et al., 2009), and a phone call can be an instrumental tool in the assessment process. A phone call, along with chart review and in-person assessment, can help you best prioritize the patient’s needs on your unit.