Starlight Foundation and Toys R Us Bring Tablets to VJH
A trip to the emergency room or stay in the hospital is a scary experience when you are a tot, a teen, or anything in between. First of all, you’re hurt or sick. That’s bad enough, but then you come to a strange place where doctors, nurses, social workers and other clinical therapists in funny outfits start poking and prodding and asking you confusing questions. It’s hard to blame the child for kicking and screaming or completely “shutting down” and refusing to engage. Unfortunately, often the only way to keep an upset and frightened child still enough to put in stitches, set a broken bone or any other medical procedure, is to sedate the child or use physical restraint.
Now, thanks to a $2,000 donation from The Starlight Children’s Foundation and Toys”R”Us Canada, VJH Foundation has purchased two Microsoft Surface Tablets for kids to use during their stay at VJH. Staff has found that the trick of distracting a child from a scary procedure depends on having the right toy at the right time. This is where the tablet fits in perfectly. According to a local doctor who worked at a children’s hospital, “The procedure is happening whether I’m ready or not. If I didn’t have the right thing with me (the right toy), by the time I went to get it, it might have been too late. Having a tablet is like having a box of tricks all-in-one”.
The tablets will allow children and youth a magnitude of age appropriate distractions and entertainment options. Tablets will help bring a child’s family, friends and supports right into the room with them to offer comfort via Skype and other live chat options no matter where they live. We know that children and youth can use their imaginations to take them places that most grown-ups can’t go, and by providing them access to a tablet, the sky is no longer the limit.
The need for tablets was brought to our attention by the social workers at VJH. They discovered that they were often able to provide children and youth with distractions by using games and other apps on their personal cell phones with their patients. They found it also helped them to develop a therapeutic rapport with children and youth more quickly when they played a game together or listened to a piece of music using these devices.
The social workers identified that they would use the tablets to alleviate children’s boredom, to offer them relaxation tools such as music and guided imagery. Social workers also identified benefits for their patients to use the tablets to work on school assignments and to research age-appropriate education materials related to current illness and treatment.