Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Grief in children

Grief in children: a handbook for adults

Atle Dyregrov
2nd edition, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, 2008. ISBN 9781843106128

"Atle Dyregrov has written about children and death with a calm and clear voice"



Explaining death, grief and loss to children and young people can be incredibly challenging especially for grieving parents and carers. Even health professionals, emergency workers, police and teachers working with children find talking about death, grief and loss with kids hard.

This became clear to me when a nurse asked AWCH for information about how to talk to children in her own family about their parent's serious illness. She wanted to talk with and prepare children at their level and in a supportive way. This was a critical time in their lives.

Grief in children: a handbook for adults, is an accessible book for parents, carers, family and professionals. It is for people who want to prepare, care for and support children living through grief, loss or trauma when someone is dying or has died. Circumstances covered vary from anticipated to sudden and traumatic death. 

Children and adolescents at different age levels have different understandings about death and grief. So how do we help children through their grief journey? 

Atle Dyregrov has written about children and death with a calm and clear voice. This is valuable in western culture where people often find it difficult to know how to talk about death. This book gives information about children and how they might think about death based on their age, sex and developmental stage. Useful examples have been drawn from family life experiences. In this second edition, more children's voices are included with children's questions and reactions. There is also more material on traumatic deaths. Atle Dyregrov has listened to what children have said about what is helpful and supportive.

To view contents link to the book, Grief in children: a handbook for adults. The chapter Guidelines for taking care of children’s needs, explores open and direct communication. There is information on death following an illness, making the loss real and giving time for understanding to grow. Children need information, adolescents may want to have websites to look at. 

The section Handling death in a playgroup and at school, is an inevitable situation for teachers and this book will help to do this well. Find help with mental preparation and planning before a death or other critical event occurs. Atle Dyregrov includes information on terminal illness of a child, although the general focus of the book is on sudden death.

This handbook overviews crisis or grief therapy for children and bereavement groups for children, caring for oneself and peer support.

Grief in children, draws on the author’s experience as a clinical psychologist, author and director of the Center for Crisis Psychology in Bergen, Norway.  His extensive experience and research underpins this book, yet the tone is informative and very readable. The case studies bring experience and understanding to the topic. Concerned adults will find a good overview and helpful information for what can be a hard task involving raw emotions.  

For children’s healthcare facilities valuing patient and family centered care, Grief in children will be a good addition to the bookshelf. It is also an accessible reference book for early childhood educators, teachers, school counselors, pastoral carers, libraries and families.

If you found this blog informative you might also like to read our blog G is for Grief and Grandma.

More information

Crisis support

Kidshelpline  Call 1800 55 1800

Hey teachers there's also the Kids helpline @ School program

Lifeline  Call  13 11 14

Resources and links

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement




Parent and carer information



Do you have a resource that has been helpful? We'd love to hear from you.



Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library


Tuesday, 21 March 2017

My friend has Down’s syndrome*


Written by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos. Illustrated by Marta Fabrega. Lets talk series.  Book house, Brighton, UK, 2012



#Down syndrome, #WDSD17, #notspecialneeds #Child wellbeing, #Healthcare preparation, #Health literacy, #Play, #Recreational activities, #School children, #Social inclusion, #Therapeutic books for children

“Do you have a special friend? I do! Her name is Ella, and she’s my best friend”

"My friend has Down's syndrome" is a bright children's book with colourful illustrations and an upbeat approach. Written essentially for school children about peer friendships. "Do you have a special friend? I do! Her name is Ella, and she's my best friend".

Positive messages surround the setting of children at summer camp with activities and fun. At first there is reluctance to have a new group member, Ella, who has Down syndrome. The camp club leader, Miss Theresa, tells the children about Ella and there are concerns; however with information comes understanding.

The story is told through the eyes of one girl and Ella is her new buddy. The girls play together, learning and sharing and partnering in sports, arts and crafts; also the camp show. Ella teaches her enthusiastic buddy pottery skills. Both girls are unique and have things they love to do as well as strengths.

“Note to parents”, about the book’s purpose is at the back. Acceptance and acknowledgment of children with Down syndrome and eliminating existing barriers with peers is a focus. Another aim is promoting a better understanding of children with Down syndrome. Find information about health problems that may be experienced by some children with Down syndrome, as well as supportive interventions. 

Developing relationships, breaking down barriers and providing opportunities enables children to strive towards being the best they can be.

More information
Visit Down Syndrome Australia to find out more, including links to personal stories and videos to challenge thinking, there's an Easy Read version.


Notes about healthcare 

Child-friendly Information and healthcare 

The book highlights children have information needs, information helps when coping with new situations and the instability of life. Going to hospital or even the doctors can be a disjointed interruption. Finding ways to make healthcare more normal and less stressful is essential.

When it comes to healthcare, children cope better when their information needs are met. For example, if having a procedure such as an x-ray, parents and healthcare professionals read books to children. Healthcare professionals, early childhood educators and teachers can link to factsheets, infographics, online resources such as Apps. 

Is the information child-friendly? One child-friendly App tested on children is Okee in medical imaging. Health literacy is important, what are the information needs of each child and how can he or she be prepared for a doctor’s or dentist visit or hospital? See related blogs Four ways parents can increase their protective role, Keeping kids needs in the picture, H is for healthcare preparation and the Paediatric nurse.



Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
E: Jillian@awch.com.au


* please email if you wish to borrow this book. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

L is for Link to health information



Searching for health information? 


Here's some tips and tools to evaluate your way through the information jungle and link to better information


Are you looking for health information for your child? Perhaps you are creating a service for children or young people or even finding information on how to involve them? Whatever the reason, finding reliable information is important. The internet can be a "jungle" and searching for online information is often time consuming and confusing. The information age and deluge of data, means it is becoming harder to separate facts from pseudo-facts. Knowledgeable consumers evaluate information to make good decisions for their health and quality counts.

Daintree rainforest, north east Queensland


Families and sharing information

As consumers and healthcare professionals partner in care, health information is shared. Families living with chronic illness, complex health conditions and rare diseases are often experts in their child's condition. Sharing helpful information and professional-consumer communication is the focus of our blog "K is for knowledge + patient".
 

Consumer health information in Australia

Australians search for free, reliable information at HealthDirect (supported by state and Federal governments). The focus is on safe, practical information, including an A-Z of health topics, medicines, symptom checker and service finder. Facts or fiction? has consumer tips on seeking trustworthy online information. Don't want to read... there’s a helpline to speak to a registered nurse, 24/7 and healthdirect app, which is also free. 


Two other resources with "user-friendly" health information are Health information and health products by BetterHealth channel and Raising Children Network.  At Raising Children Network find "My neighbourhood", parents/carers enter their postcode to link to local services and link to intercultural health information.


Evaluating health information - USA

Go to MedlinePlus, (the world’s largest medical library), or view a video tutorial (from USA National Library of Medicine) for more information. See also, Finding and evaluating online resources, 5 quick questions on social media resources (USA National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health).

Do you want to Trust it or Trash it? This quality assessment toolbox was created by Access To Credible Genetics (ATCG) Resource Network. There is also a developer toolbox for creating educational resources. MLA, the Medical Library Association, offers find good health information and top health websites.


Evaluating health information - United Nations and Europe

Health on the Net Foundation (HON), created the HON code, search, tools and topics for reliable information. The code provides a stamp of approval, good websites can approach HON to see if they are up to scratch. Now 20 years old, this NGO is accredited to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Look for the HON code on Australian websites too, Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy.

A useful website? European Commission has a quick checklist for useful websites, with pointers about whether a site is user focused.

Communication between families and health professionals

Access to reliable information should help families and healthcare professionals communicate and make decisions. The ability to ask questions about suggested treatments and procedures is important. Choose Wisely Australia, is an initiative from NPS MedicineWise. Look for 5 questions to ask your doctor.

Questioning quality of  information 

When searching for information, ask questions about information quality and avoid making assumptions. For example, an "expert" author may write about a topic they know well and also about other topics they know less about. Are we likely to rely on both equally, the topic the "expert" knows less about may not be as reliable.  Look beyond, politics, fashion etc. and at strengths and weaknesses of information.

The Knowledgeable patient: communication and participation in health. Edited by Sophie Hill available at AWCH library 613 HIL 1

Infographics

Infographics are now used more often because combining images together with health information can be very powerful. Complex health messages are shared more easily and quickly. Health information is communicated across cultures, age groups and literacy levels.

Organisations and government bodies create infographics, apps and digital technology to promote health information. Reliable information, based on children, young people and family needs, must under-pin any user-friendly format. How can children and young people be involved in creating something that makes sense to them? Investing in Children is one organisation that created films to celebrate their work on child rights and services based on the needs of children and young people.



Linking people + digital information

Whether searching via google scholar, government websites or databases (via libraries or health portals), journeying through the "information jungle" is challenging. Healthcare professionals and consumers link in the lookout for helpful information for healthier lives.

Health literacy
Health literacy refers to the ability individuals and communities have to engage with information and services. Visit the OpHeLia project, Deakin University, for information on health literacy.

Meaningful information is not just something we locate. Useful information is developed when individuals and community are involved and real needs are identified.

The Australian Digital Health Agency has conducted a survey to find out how Australians engage with digital services and access information to improve their health and wellbeing. The National Digital Health Strategy is underway. Emphasis is placed on families and individuals, with the slogan "Your health. Your say." 

Consumer Health Forum highlights the value of health literacy in their submission on the National Digital Health Strategy. People need to find, understand and use health-related information and services, to make good decisions about their health. Find out more in their "response to questions for healthcare consumers, carers and families", p 6.

Join the Australian digital health access conversation!



Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au
AWCH Library


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The Internet is like a puddle

Five Mile Press, Victoria, 2014
ISBN 9781760064167


For children aged 3-6 yrs








A cautionary tale

Don’t let the wide-eyed animals in “The internet is like a puddle” lull you into thinking all is calm. Expect a serious message. There are loads of fun things to do and games to play on the internet. Look out for a crocodile with plenty of teeth idling in the puddle but don’t be deceived. This book will help adults communicate a cautionary approach to internet time and start conversations with young children about safe internet play.

The internet can be a bit tricky

There’s lots of games and splashing fun to be had in a puddle, the water may appear to be shallow but can be deep and mirky underneath. In this picture book koala is absorbed stepping out with his mobile phone, rabbit and bear are on a lap top, ipad or ‘device’, mouse looks on holding a red polka-dot ball. The first inkling of difficulty comes when frog jumps head first into the pond, the internet can be “a bit tricky”. 

The first inkling of difficulty comes when frog jumps head first into the pond

Child-friendly story about online safety

Young children in many Australian families may not ask “what’s the internet?” Going online is just part of daily life. This little gem of a book is going to be helpful for adults wanting to create awareness about internet safety from a child’s perspective. 

Shona Innes, the author, uses words like “deep’, ‘stuck’, ‘trouble’ and ‘tricky’. Awareness is raised about safety and chatting to strangers, also health and wellbeing. Bears eyes droop from playing too long.

Feelings and reactions are explored, the internet is fun to play with and because of this it can be hard to say ‘no’. This validates feelings children may have if they are asked to say ‘no’ to the chance to dip into the ‘internet puddle’. It might seem unfair when ‘everyone else gets to play’.

Role of a parent or carer

Big bear holds Little bears paw at the edge of a pond. Duck is happily floating in the “puddle”. Then something doesn’t look right, a large crocodile with lots of teeth and a menacing smile waits in the pond with an inflatable purple floaty ring. The message is clear, a safe person needs to be there to make sure children don’t go in too deep and if this happens, they know what to do next. Notes for parents and teachers about technology use, setting limits and being internet safe are at the back of the book. Shona Innes, is a qualified clinical and forensic psychologist.

This book has engaging illustrations with thoughtful text and provides a wonderful means for communicating with children in a child-friendly way. It is one of several books from the Big hug series featuring expressive and warm animal illustrations and sharing emotional challenges.

Please get in touch if you would like to read The Internet is like a puddle, You are like you or Worries are like clouds. I purchased copies from The Children’s Bookshop they can also be purchased online. Recommended retail price is $14.95.

Crocodile, Freshwater Station, Cairns


More on internet, cyber or online safety?

World issues: Staying safe online is a recent book for primary students, with plenty of photos and accessible text.  Parents can link to Australian Government’s Office of the Children’s eSafety Commission, for guidance and strategies in the home, including managing technology. The publication A parent’s guide to online safety is available 5 languages. Life Education, visits schools to empower children and young people to make safer and healthier resources through education. Parents can find out about how to start conversations with their children.

Your feedback is valuable. Do you have any children’s 
resources that have helped explain internet safety?



Jillian Rattray
AWCH librarian
Email: Jillian@awch.com.au

November 2016

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

In memory of Dr Graham Bench



As I was finalising my talk for the ACCYPN conference last week I was reflecting on how far we have come in the care of children and young people in healthcare since AWCH was established in 1973.  I was thinking of the dedicated and motivated individuals who came together to establish AWCH and drive change in the psychosocial wellbeing of children and young people in healthcare, when I received the sad news of Dr Graham Bench’s death.

Graham was a well known and much loved paediatrician of over 50 years. His involvement with AWCH began in 1975 and he held various positions within the organisation over the past 40 years. Notably he was treasurer to Quentin Bryce’s Presidency and was made an Honorary Life member of AWCH and was appointed an AWCH Ambassador in 2010 in recognition of the incredible contribution he made to AWCH.  Graham wrote the original AWCH Constitution and took on the role of visiting speaker to various organisations and fundraising for AWCH. As recently as only a few months ago Graham was speaking about the work of AWCH at a local club.

Graham has been a significant part of so many of AWCH’s achievements and he sums this up nicely in his own words,


“……my greatest thoughts about the work of AWCH are how much the wards in children's hospitals have changed, how the whole attitude towards children in hospital has improved and thus lessened the psychological trauma that they suffer by being hospitalised and in particular our very wonderful establishment of the AWCH Ward Granny Scheme…..” 



Testimonial from Dr Graham Bench AWCH lifetime member and AWCH Ambassador on the 40th anniversary of AWCH.


On behalf of AWCH I would like to thank Graham for his tireless and outstanding contribution to improving the wellbeing of children and young people in healthcare across Australia for over 50 years – you will be remembered by so many with much affection and admiration.



A/Prof Alison Hutton
AWCH President

AWCH office email:  awch@awch.com.au
AWCH office phone: 02 9817 2439

October 2016