It is common for St. Jude patients to undergo tests, procedures, and sometimes surgery. Having a serious procedure or surgery can be stressful for the patients, as well as parents and siblings, especially if it is the first time.
It is common for patients and their siblings have unspoken fears, questions, and false ideas about what will happen during a procedure or surgery. They may hear doctors, nurses and other staff members using words they have never heard. If children and teens are not given information in words that they can understand, they are left to imagine what is going to happen. These thoughts can often be scarier than the actual event. Helping a child/ teen prepare for surgery or procedures will help to:
- Reduce anxiety
- Develop trust in parents and the hospital staff
- Identify what may be hard and develop ways to cope
- Give a sense of control over what is going to happen
Child Life Specialists provide preparations based on the age and developmental level of the child or teen. Information is provided based on how much information the patient or family requests. Preparing a child/teen for a stressful event involves providing information about all the senses. It is important to include information regarding what the child will feel, see, hear, taste, and smell while describing the sequence of events. This enables the patient to have information about what to expect and the opportunity to express any fears or concerns they might have, regarding the event. During the preparation, actual medical equipment is utilized to help promote familiarization with upcoming stressful events.