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What Patient Experience Can Learn from Child Life Professionals

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What Patient Experience Can Learn from Child Life Professionals

Jason A. Wolf, Ph.D., CPXP
President, The Beryl Institute

Special Commentary from:

Janet Cross, M.Ed., CCLS, CPXP
Administrative Director, Patient- and Family-Centered Care
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Stacey Koenig, MSM, CCLS
Senior Director, Patient and Family Support Services
Children's Mercy Hospital

Divna Wheelwright, MA, CCLS
Manager of Child Life Services
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland

Published in collaboration with the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP), this paper explores the value and impact of child life efforts and the core philosophies of child life that could inform patient experience efforts more broadly.

Child life specialists work every day with children, families and the healthcare team to move system-based approaches to collaborative approaches that are mutually beneficial to all those engaged in the healthcare experience. The paper includes perspectives from a child life specialists, leaders or administrators responsible for patient experience efforts and family members from six organizations:

  • Children's Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO
  • Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, MO
  • Florida Hospital for Children, Orlando, FL
  • Mary Bridge Children's Hospital & Health Network, Tacoma, WA
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
  • UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, San Francisco, CA

In the paper, contributors shared their insights and personal stories addressing the role of child life in patient and family experience overall and key philosophies of child life practice that can inform patient experience efforts. The paper includes an overview of seven concepts that can guide experience efforts and offers direct considerations for action relevant across healthcare settings.


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