Several teen patients play video games in the new teen lounge at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.
Hospitalization can be difficult at any age. However, adolescents and teens experience a great deal of stress during hospitalization because their developmental needs for control, privacy, peer connection and independence are challenged.
To help address these challenges, the Child Life Program at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach opened a Teen Lounge made possible through the 2016 Mattel Play Grants Program sponsored by Mattel Children’s Foundation and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The new Teen Lounge is dedicated space for teens to work through their hospitalization in a developmentally appropriate setting and connect with peers with shared experiences.
Though there are three playrooms available at Miller Children’s for pediatric patients of various ages to play in during their stay, teen patients often felt like they had outgrown the playrooms. The playrooms are filled with toys, board games, computers and activities that are age appropriate for younger patients. The new Teen Lounge is filled with gaming systems, TV’s, interactive arcade games and more activities geared toward teens.
“Having a Teen Lounge that welcomes socialization, peer connection, separate from younger children, offers a safe and appropriate setting for adolescents to continue forming their sense of self, while relating to others who have similar experiences, hopes and fears,” says Rita Goshert, manager, Child Life Program, Miller Children’s.
With lots of research of the hospital grounds, the Child Life Program found the perfect spot to create a dedicated space for teens. The new Teen Lounge is located across from a nurse’s station in one of the general pediatrics units at Miller Children’s.
A significant percentage of teen admissions at Miller Children's are of long duration due to serious injury or a chronic illness. The Teen Lounge will offer a natural location for celebrating the milestones often missed by teens due to lengthy hospitalizations, such as graduations, birthday parties and school dances.
In addition to making the hospital experience a more positive one for teens, the Child Life Program at Miller Children’s is dedicated to ensuring that children and teens developmental needs are met.
Developmentally, teen patients are seeking a sense of independence and control. While many teens feel that their independence and choice has been taken from them during a hospitalization, this new environment is a chance for them to express their individuality and experience an element of control.
“The Teen Lounge will afford opportunities for Child Life Specialists to engage with teens in a comfortable and normalized setting to facilitate honest discussions about their health and feelings about hospitalization and chronic illness or injury,” says Goshert. “Ensuring that a teen stays on track with their development is just as important as the medical treatment they receive.”
Employees and patients check out the new Teen Lounge during an open house at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach.