Child Life Services - Celebrating 85 years of play!

In the hospital’s early days, patient care focused mainly on the children’s physical needs. In 1936 the Montreal Children’s Hospital became the first hospital in North America to recognize the importance and value of play as a significant healing modality and a fundamental part of coping for hospitalized children. 

Since the early 60’s there was an emphasis on play for hospitalized children.  At this time it was established that creating and maintaining a therapeutic environment was vital and this is when the child life department emerged.  The Child Life profession grew in response to awareness of the development and psychological effects of hospitalization on children and adolescents.  

Certified Child Life Specialists have a university degree in fields related to child development.  Child Life Specialists focus on the psychosocial and developmental needs of infant, youth and adolescents, while collaborating with families and other health care professionals.  

Child Life Specialists use a variety of methods to help children cope while they are at the hospital. One of the interventions used is medical play which provides an opportunity to become familiarized and comfortable with medical equipment. For example, using puppets to explain how blood tests are taken. This helps children understand the steps of their upcoming procedures in a developmentally appropriate manner, express feelings and concerns, and empower them with long term coping strategies.  

Child Life Services presently covers Hematology/Oncology, Medical/Surgical wards, Emergency/Traumatology, Intensive Care Units and the Pediatric Day Center. Our Certified Child Life Specialists continue to advocate, empower and support patients and families throughout their hospital experiences. They continue to help our patients feel like kids while they navigate the uncertainty and hardships of illness. This year marks the 85th anniversary of Child Life Services at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.We would like to highlight the work accomplished by this special team for their essential role in the daily lives of our patients and families.

 Happy Anniversary!