THE INOCENTI CHILD LIFE & MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS

The main objective of the Inocenți Child Life & Mental Health programs is to promote optimal development of children and teenagers in Romanian healthcare facilities. Inocenți professionals offer emotional support to hospitalized children of all ages as well as their families, daily play opportunities, art therapy and recreational activities, as well as information to help them better understand and cope with medical procedures.

Our programs promote the rights of children and their families in accordance with The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

An important component of Children’s Life & Mental Health programs is the involvement of trained volunteers to carry out therapeutic and play activities with children. Our main volunteer providers are: Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy “Carol Davila”, Babeș-Bolyai University Cluj-Napoca – Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Spiru Haret University, Bucharest.

Additionally, Inocenți Child Life & Mental Health includes:
– Parents’ support groups with themes such as Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) prevention sessions
Mental Health Literacy sessions and informational handouts for adolescents that aims to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and to increase awareness of the importance of mental health
Therapeutic Stories for Hospitalized Children and Their Families

A short history:

The Child Life initiative was founded in Bucharest in 1990 in collaboration with several hospitals and universities in the United States, including the Boston Children’s Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center and Wheelock College. Currently, our active partner in education and exchange of experience of the Innocent Child Life Programs is Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, Baltimore.

Why?

Hospitals can be scary. Aside from the physical discomfort caused by medical interventions, hospitalized children experience significant challenges caused by lack of stimulation, anxiety around medical tests or treatments, and having to adapt to a new environment that many perceive as cold as unfriendly.

Locations:

I. Bucharest

  • The “Child Life” Counseling and Support Centre for Children and Parents in the “Alessandrescu- Rusescu” National Institute for Mother’s and Child’s Health

Contact:

*Iuliana Tudor, CCS Coordinator: iuliana.tudor@inocenti.ro

*Andra Cismaru, CCS Psychologist: andra.cismaru@inocenti.ro

  • “Victor Gomoiu” Children’s Clinical Hospital

*Alina Tomsa-Bogdanffy, Psychologist: alina.tomsa@inocenti.ro

II. Cluj

  • The Cluj-Napoca Clinical Hospital for Recovery
  • The Pediatric Psychiatry and Juvenile Addiction Clinic

      Both of these 2 programs started in 2016 and they are running both in the play spaces/room and at the child’s bedside when needed.

Contact:

*Ioana Mesterelu, Psychologist – program coordinator in the Pediatric Psychiatry and Juvenile Addiction Clinic, ioana.mesterelu@inocenti.ro

*Mihaela Ința – Organizational Development Manager, mihaela.inta@inocenti.ro

 III. Bistrița

  • The program has been running since 1998 in the Emergency Hospital of Bistrita-Nasaud and it is addressing the psycho-social needs of abandoned babies, children admitted for treatment and parents.

An important part of our programs’ success is the engagement of trained volunteers in daily activities with the children.

Contact:

*Maria Cioarbă, Program Coordinator, 0744 335 614

*Laura Filipoi – HR Director, laura.filipoi@inocenti.ro

Our objectives:

We set out to prevent and ameliorate the negative effects of hospitalization on children and their families, by focusing on the following objectives:

  • decrease parents’ and children’s anxiety levels;
  • provide the stimulation necessary for hospitalized children’s early childhood development in the absence of parents or legal guardians;
  • diminish hospital-related psychosocial trauma;
  • enable faster and more efficient medical recovery;
  • prevent developmental delays;
  • help children process their hospitalization experiences in an adaptive, positive way.

How do we do this?

  • We explain the treatment to children in age-appropriate terms, to help them adjust to hospital environment.
  • We offer emotional support before and after medical procedures, as well as over the course of the hospital stay.
  • We encourage play, both medical and other, both individually and in groups.
  • We offer art therapy and recreational activities in playrooms or at the children’s bedside.
  • We conduct a daily program of complex and age-appropriate psycho-neuromotor stimulation including play and massage for abandoned babies aged 0-3 for five hours a day.
  • We prepare children for medical procedures or operations they undertake.
  • We extend emotional support to siblings and family.
  • We teach children interactive relaxation and pain management techniques.
  • We offer relevant child development information to parents.
  • We offer psychological support in the event of loss and mourning.
  • We organize special events such as Christmas and Easter celebrations, special visits, or Children’s Day activities in our playrooms.

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