NEWS | July 9, 2020

UC Davis Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy team adapts activities, crafts, even bingo for kids during COVID-19

Traveling carts and technology help keep kids smiling


When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy team at UC Davis Children’s Hospital had to close the playrooms. But their patients are kids and they needed something.

UC Davis Health facility dog Paloma assists during Bingo.  UC Davis Health facility dog Paloma assists during Bingo.

The answer? The team loaded up carts and brought all their activities, crafts, music and art groups to the pediatric patients’ bedsides.

“This pandemic has taught us how to expand our reach,” said Diana Sundberg, manager of the UC Davis Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department. “Nothing will ever take the place of in-person contact, but this has created positive change for the children, and for us.”

Here is what the daily routine looks like:

  • Each morning, a craft cart makes the rounds to every child’s room with a craft of the day. Playroom coordinator Alix Hobson-Carey drops off supplies for the children who want to work on their own or she works with the kids at their bedsides.
  • Then, an activity cart stops by patients’ rooms twice a day with toys, games and more craft activities. Some items can be kept. Other larger, cleanable items can be checked out and returned. All the toys are cleaned and disinfected once they are returned.
  • Music group and art group are held Monday through Friday via Zoom – like so much else these days. The kids log into their own personal device or borrow one of the hospital’s iPads to Zoom along.
  • Child Life also occasionally hosts special events via Zoom (for example, Pickleberry Pie concerts for kids).
  • On Thursday mornings, it’s Bingo via Zoom. They play three games - two traditional bingo games and one blackout – while staff members and patients swap jokes in between games. Kids with the winning tickets get to choose a prize from the traveling prize cart.

“The Zoom groups are a great way to keep the pediatric patients connected,” said Sundberg. “It helps them to know they are not alone and provides them with a sense of community.”

The technology has also taught the team ways to permanently expand their offerings to children waiting for surgical procedures.

“This has definitely been eye-opening and will be something that we can continue doing long after the pandemic is over and the playrooms reopen,” she said. “The technology has shown us it is a great way to keep all the children connected regardless of their ability to attend groups in person.”

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