Evolution of Child Life
In 1990, we created the first play corner at the paediatric oncology ward at the Prince of Wales Hospital. In 1992, under the guidance of clinical psychologists, we pioneered Hospital Play in the five public hospitals. Through the use of play, we help children cope with changes brought about by childhood cancer.
We believe hospital play is a great tool to address the psychological needs of sick children, something that they need to march through their patient journey in a better mentality. In 1997, we sponsored our Hospital Play Coordinator to Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital, USA for Child Life training, since then our Hospital Play service has adopted the child life professional methodology encompassing training and service standards codified by the Association of Child Life Professionals* of USA. We have also been providing overseas training for our staff to obtain internationally-recognised accreditation to ensure Child Life service is on par globally so that children and their families coping with cancer may receive excellent care and support.
In 2008, the Hong Kong Government pledged to build a Children's Hospital for Hong Kong; many paediatric doctors and nurses attended professional exchanges and trainings at hospitals in the United States and Canada, and many of them were well acquainted with Child Life services. In 2015, we decided that it was an opportune time for our Hospital Play service to adopt the official name, Child Life service. We also renamed our Hospital Play Specialists as Child Life Specialists. The new designation reflects the fact that our Child Life service has been adopting the USA Child Life international code of conducts and methodology in our training and practice and also allows our Child Life team to be globally recognised when exchanging experience and knowledge with international healthcare professionals. This also helps to demonstrate the professionalism of Hong Kong's pediatrics in the Child Life discipline.
Milestones of CCF’s Child Life Service
|1997||Hospital Play Coordinator was trained as a Child Life Specialist at the Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, USA and introduced relevant knowledge, methodology and service standards to the discipline in Hong Kong|
|2005-2012||Four specialists took part in five separate occasions in the annual general meeting of the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP), exchanging ideas and experiences with child life specialists from around the world|
|2010||CCF's Hospital Play Coordinator passed the accreditation examination and became a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS)|
|2012||In cooperation with the Department of Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine at United Christian Hospital, CCF launched the Child Life service beyond the cancer ward|
|2012-13||Three specialists were sent for training in children hospitals in the United States and Canada, which further strengthened the professional standards of CCF's Child Life service|
|2014||CCF Professional Services Manager was invited to the International Summit on Paediatric Psychosocial Care organised by ACLP to explore the development of the discipline in various countries|
|2015||Our service was officially renamed as ‘Child Life’|
|2016||Held the first Child Life Symposium in Hong Kong with two overseas child life experts attending|
|2017||Developed local child life clinical training programme with the support of ACLP|
|2018||Held Asia Child Life Symposium, three experts from overseas gave valuable advices to the future development of CCF Child Life Programme in Hong Kong|
* Founded in 1982, Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP, www.childlife.org) of the USA is committed to develop, promote and monitor professional standards in the discipline. It is a strong advocate for exemplary quality in the evidence-based practice of child life service. With around 6,000 members representing over 600 organisations from more than 10 countries, ACLP is actively involved in the development of child life service in different regions of the world.
The Way Forward
The work of the child life specialist in Hong Kong is well recognised and supported by medical professionals, patients and parents. However, due to limited resources, training, human resources and infrastructure, its services cannot be made more widely available. Thanks to the support of generous donors and the medical profession, CCF has achieved encouraging results. Its hope is to build on this experience, to continue to promote the development of the Child Life discipline in paediatrics care so that more ailing children may benefit.
Currently the training of the child life specialist relies upon overseas universities. CCF’s child life specialists, now with adequate clinical experience, are qualified to provide internship supervision. CCF hopes to further strengthen the localisation of the discipline. One approach is to work with local universities in conducting researches to collect local data so as to transform the service into an evidence-based practice. In tandem CCF wishes to act as the bridge between stakeholders in Hong Kong to bolster the discipline's development towards a standardised complementary specialty of paediatrics.