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The admission of a child to a hospital creates a difficult situation for him as well as for his parents, siblings, family and friends. It is still a traumatic and / or critical process, which makes children feel disconnected from their daily activities.
To improve the mood and make the children have a more positive experience during the period of hospitalization, the Red Cross Youth has developed an animation project in the hospitals of Madrid, Spain. Paloma Hombrados Garcia, coordinator of this project, explains what it consists of:
The goal of the program of Attention to Hospitalized Children, of the Red Cross Youth, is to promote actions that improve the quality of life of minors hospitalized for medium and long-term illnesses admitted to different hospitals in Madrid, Spain.
- How did this project for hospitalized children arise?
This project arose in 1993 at the Niño de Jesús Hospital, thanks to the initiative of a group of volunteers, observing the unmet needs of minors admitted to the hospital. This project is based on animation activities and workshops, trying to cover the needs that were being detected in the different hospital centers.
Both the hospital center and the staff can satisfy the health needs that the patient poses, but there are other needs that affect the child's social, emotional, or school development, which were not covered in their day and which are what we cover with this project.
In addition, the child has a lot of free time throughout the day doing few activities and remaining inactive, so it is an opportunity to carry out recreational activities and start different games and workshops to occupy this free time and prevent the child from remaining single.
Our project affects the socio-affective and cognitive development of patients using the necessary spaces and materials to develop children's activities that enhance relationships between equals. Children participate despite their limitations depending on each disease, in group activities, thereby generating feelings of self-efficacy and competence.
- How is this project developed?
The project is launched in four hospitals in Madrid: La Paz, Niño Jesús, Ramón y Cajal and El Clínico as well as in the Hospital of Móstoles and in the Severo Ochoa, of Leganés, and is carried out thanks to the participation of volunteers in the morning and / or afternoon according to each hospital center.
They prepare the activity day by day, adapt it to the profile of the hospitalized minors, carry out the same and then evaluate their work. The activities they carry out are the following: recreational, animation, socio-educational activities such as crafts, games and accompaniment to minors, individual activities in the rooms, workshops on plastic expression, among others.
The skills that CRJ volunteers use to interact with children are joy, enthusiasm, imagination, creativity, smile, etc., achieving a greater adaptation of the minor during the hospitalization process.
- How parents can play with their child in the hospital
Sometimes we believe that hospitalized minors have too many limitations and we simply have to adapt the games and activities according to their limitation. It is also important to continue seeing the hospitalized child not as a sick person but as a 'child'. One way to help them is to join us in group activities and to be able to play with their children.
I would also highlight the importance of the participation of parents in our activities, since they are also indirect beneficiaries of this project, and it helps them to disconnect or have their moment of relief with the volunteers, since sometimes the work team perform specific activities for family members or, on the contrary, prefer to take a moment of respite while their children participate in activities with the monitors Red Cross Youth.
- Which children are graced by this project
We have children of very different ages, from babies to under 17 years old, perhaps that is the greatest difficulty when working with them, since we have to adapt the activity to both a small child and an older one, using different strategies depending on their ages.
The diseases that we can find can also be very diverse. It is for this reason, due to their own illness, that the team of volunteers sometimes have difficulties in getting them out of the room and encouraging them to participate in group activities, due to their state of mind.
- What is necessary to participate in the project
In principle we have a specific profile for this project, although with some flexibility. To be a volunteer for this program, you need a commitment of two mornings or two afternoons, having to previously carry out training at the Institution, in addition to specific training to work with the childhood and youth group, and another from the intervention program itself with Hospitalized childhood.
There are many other associations that work with hospitalized minors, although we all complement each other. Our program especially affects personal relationships and group living, as an aspect that favors their recovery by carrying out recreational, animation and artistic expression activities.
All this makes the hospitalized minor improve their mood and have a more positive experience during the hospitalization process. The program focuses on personal relationships and the use of animation and play as fundamental and essential factors for their recovery.
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