Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
(603) 742-5252
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Child Life Services

Child Life Services

Helping children and families cope with life's challenges...
A child's experience in the hospital can be scary and overwhelming for the whole family. Child Life Specialists are trained in child development and how hospitalization can affect this process. Specialists hold a Bachelor's or Master's degree and are certified through the Child Life Council. Using age-appropriate education, preparation and supportive activities for normalization and expression, we help make the hospital less scary. We strive to minimize the stress of hospitalization on families by helping children cope positively and through providing information, support and guidance to parents, siblings and other family members.

Child Life Specialists provide:

Play helps children learn about their world and develop new skills. It is especially important to use play during hospitalization because it's a normal part of a child's life and provides them with comfort. A Child Life Specialist offers developmentally appropriate toys and games and provides opportunities for creative and expressive play. The Child Life Specialist runs the pediatric playroom as well as the facilitation of individual care at the bedside. It is important for families to take breaks while in the hospital so we encourage you to take breaks as we are spending time with your child to help ease their fears and anxiety.

During hospital experiences, children see many new people and unfamiliar things. By explaining these to children in a child friendly way, we can calm fears and decrease anxiety. A Child Life Specialist can help prepare children for procedures using gentle language, play and visual aids. A Child Life Specialist can help children and families cope during procedures by offering support and distraction, as well as use therapeutic medical play to increase children's understanding and comfort with the hospital setting.

Family Support
Our hospital recognizes that the services we provide children affect their entire family. To help meet the special needs of parents and siblings, your Child Life Specialist offers help in explaining a child's hospitalization in a way that children and siblings can understand, serves as a resource for questions about child development and parenting, helps connect families to community resources, and helps parents prepare for the transition home following a discharge or medical procedure.

Your Child Life Specialist also provides the following services:

Pre-Procedural Tour and Teaching for Children and Teens

Siblings at Birth

Teddy Bear Clinic

Special Care Support
Child life and other disciplines use a Wentworth-Douglass special care screening tool to learn more about a child with special needs before providing care. Based on the information, we may limit the number of staff providing care to decrease confusion and anxiety, provide a Social StoryTM that explains in pictures and simple language what the patient will encounter in the hospital, schedule a tour of the facility to help a child feel better prepared for procedure day, and provide appropriate coping materials on procedure day. Our goal is to make the hospital experience a positive one for your family. Please contact Child Life Services to complete a Special Care Screen and together we will develop a plan of care to best help your child cope with their hospital experience.  

For more information about Child Life Services, please contact Alison Leighton, CCLS at (603) 740-2496.


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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
Toll free: 1 (877) 201-7100