Even a minor cut or injury can be distressing for a young child, so imagine how they feel when they’re facing medical treatment in hospital.
Elizabeth White knows all too well – as nurse unit manager of the children’s ward at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne, she’s helped countless children go through procedures ranging from removing Band-Aids to surgery under anaesthetic.
But she has a special trick up her sleeve – a box of goodies that help divert their attention away from what the nurses or doctors are doing. The Distraction Boxes contain specially chosen games, puzzles, activities and toys and are donated to children’s wards all across Australia – and the Royal Flying Doctor Service – by charity TLC for Kids.
“Their primary role is to help us distract the children if they’re having a procedure, for example a blood test or an IV drip. But it can be as simple as taking a Band-Aid off,” Elizabeth says. “It provides a distraction for children so they don’t get so stressed. You can imagine if they only have, say, a needle to look at, it’s a bit scary.”
Elizabeth says as well as preventing children from getting worked up during examinations, the boxes help hospital staff build a rapport with their patients. “If we can play with the child they get a bit more comfortable with the staff,” she says. “That helps the parents relax too and that also feeds back to the child.” She says the boxes can also reduce the need for sedation, which in turn has significant medical benefits.
TLC for Kids has placed Distraction Boxes in more than 400 hospitals across Australia. The one-of-a-kind program, launched in 2004, touches an estimated 600,000 children each year through more than 1700 boxes. Each box is used nine to 13 times a week.
We are proud to be supporting this pioneering charity through our Babyology Christmas Care campaign. We’ve joined with generous sponsors to donate more than $37,000 of goods, including baby monitors, carriers, shoes, baby care products and toys, to the Rapid TLC program. The program provides speedy, focused help to children in hospital and their families when they need it most.
Elizabeth says Rapid TLC has also been invaluable to her hospital – as has TLC’s help in fitting out the ward’s playroom, plus donations of Christmas presents and Easter eggs. “Those sorts of things have made a big difference to making it child friendly and making it a positive experience,” she says. “Hopefully the kids will go back with that memory of the fun things and not that horrible machine. TLC’s been fantastic for us for many years and really made a difference to us and the children.”
You can join Babyology Christmas Care by donating to TLC for Kids directly – and stay tuned for more on the charity and our campaign.