We’ve been seeing this two-year-old very regularly in the bone marrow transplant unit at SickKids. She tunes into Circle Time most mornings from 10:30 – 11:30 and often signs up for a bedside visit for 30 minutes in the afternoon. Her family isn’t able to be with her all the time, so in the afternoons she’s often with a nurse or a child life specialist, so having that extra dose of camp is very helpful.
Yesterday, when we were setting up the visits with her Mom, we floated the idea of inviting her siblings from outside the hospital to join in on the call.
During COVID, only one family member is allowed at the hospital at a time, but through Zoom we were able to bring the whole family together. We sent the parents the login information, and at that afternoon, we were joined by her three older siblings, her Mom and Dad and even her Grandma!
We started off the way we normally do, singing her favourite songs and trying to get her to do the actions, but pretty soon it was the siblings who were doing the majority of the singing. The smile on her face was something we’ll never forget.
Her four-year-old sister started getting silly, mixing up the words to Old MacDonald and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, falling over laughing at her own jokes, and that really got reaction from our Camper. Her two teen siblings were also participating, and in between songs would take moments to say “we love you” and “we miss you so much” and “we can’t wait for you to come home”. We ended the visit the same way we always do with Campers, with the Skinamarink song; everyone sang along and followed the actions.
We were able to help normalize the experience of interacting with a loved one over Zoom, and bring a family together in a way that they hadn’t been able to since the start of her treatment, and now, we have a weekly meet-up with this family.
Our in-hospital program has always been so much more than crafts, games, or songs. We pride ourselves on supporting families, bringing people together and breaking down barriers that medical treatment creates.
*Camper and family names and images have been changed to protect privacy