Photo: Rachel Wilson and her daughter Caroline in their decorated room at Children’s Mercy
Credit: Children’s Mercy
Kansas City, MO, August 26, 2020 — As millions of children around the U.S. experience an unprecedented degree of isolation in hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic, Children’s Mercy Hospital has been using art therapy to lift spirits.
With access to hundreds of photo tiles donated by Mixtiles — whose product turns smartphone pictures into photo tiles that stick and re-stick to walls — children at the hospital have been able to surround themselves with images of their loved ones, whom they cannot see in person due to ongoing visitation restrictions implemented by children’s hospitals nationwide.“We were working through many common fears and worries with chronic patients, but those fears have felt magnified even more-so now that there is the added stress of the Covid pandemic,” said Kaley Wajcman, art therapist at Children’s Mercy.
However, as worrisome as a family may feel while staying in-patient, pandemic or not, there are many ways to help bring a sense of comfort and familiarity during their stay. At Children’s Mercy this has included finding objects that remind them of home, their friends or family, and making patient rooms as “homey” as possible by adding personal touches to make a hospital room feel less like a hospital.
“Empowering a patient and their family to choose the artwork that surrounds their room may give an individual a sense of control and ownership over their environment,” Wajcman continued. “By adding these seemingly small personalized touches, it can lead to improved coping and overall mood for a child or family who may be having an otherwise difficult time adjusting to their hospital.”
With the onset of Covid-19, hospital guidelines initially restricted having multiple caregivers bedside for a patient. That has since changed, allowing approved caregivers that have passed a coronavirus screening to rotate and to be together as needed for the support of the patient. The same is true with sibling visitation and visitors in general. To protect the health and safety of the patients and other families at Children’s Mercy, there are currently strict visitor restrictions for in-patients.
“We have found that having family photos around really lifts our spirits and makes our daughter’s hospital room feel a little brighter,” said Rachel Wilson, whose daughter Caroline is a patient at Children’s Mercy. “I was so excited when our Mixtiles arrived, but I was surprised that my daughter was equally excited! Her face lit up when she saw the pictures and kept pointing to them and repeatedly saying her brother’s name. Some days of hospital living are very challenging, but our Mixtiles keep us surrounded and reminded of the happy times.”
Health guidelines during the course of this pandemic are constantly evolving, both in the hospital and globally. But self-isolation continues to be a way for families and those with compromised health to remain healthy. Yet isolating in a hospital setting can feel like just that; isolating.
“This is a trying time for all of us, especially children who can’t quite understand why the world has changed so drastically seemingly overnight,” said Eytan Levit, Co-Founder of Mixtiles. “We hope our wall art brightens the rooms of each child at these facilities and enables them to feel closer to their loved ones, and allows them to focus on some home decor in the meantime.”