Creating an oasis of happiness in the hospital
Hospitalized kids often times cannot leave the hospital while undergoing treatment, which means their family isn’t leaving the hospital either. Starlight Spaces program transforms indoor and outdoor environments by providing an update, partial renovation, or a total overhaul to an existing space. By re-imagining playrooms, treatment rooms, waiting areas, family kitchens, lounges, and even outdoor playgrounds, pediatric patients and their families can relax and enjoy their time together.
Alyssa Luksa is the Director of Child Life and Expressive Therapy at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas. Her desk faces their newly built Starlight Space and, every day, she sees kids shouting with joy as they step inside the playroom.
The hospital floor where the playroom resides is unique because there are seven patient rooms specifically dedicated to epilepsy monitoring. The Starlight Space is equipped with special cameras that monitor the children, so if a child were to have a seizure it’s captured on camera and staff can quickly intervene. This is crucial data that the doctors use to determine future care for a child. Before the Starlight Space, kids could only be monitored in their rooms, but now they have a fun and safe space to go while they’re undergoing treatment.
“Once you’re in the hospital for a couple of days, the walls are closing in and you need an escape like this Starlight room. The new Family Room addresses the needs of all family members, whether they want to read, eat, or work."
-Wendy Pauker, Child Life Manager, Banner Thunderbird Medical Center
Having a central location for a variety of toys and games allows children to gather and engage in developmental, therapeutic, and medical play for self-expression and experience processing
The spaces create a positive experience by combating boredom, enriching choice, and reducing isolation
A medical-free zone allows kids to feel a sense of security and ease in an otherwise stressful environment
Patients and families have an opportunity to connect with each other, their visitors, and other families facing similar circumstances
Environments are specially designed to give structure, familiarity, and security to an unfamiliar, overwhelming, and potentially scary place
Fear and anxiety around environmental stressors are reduced when children are allowed a medical-free outlet for their emotions
Clinicians capitalize on motivational therapy by encouraging walks to and from the communal space