Captains on Call program making a difference

29 July 2020

29 July 2020

Captain Starlights are continuing to work their magic at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as a new study shows the positive impact they can have on young patients.

Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) Burns Advanced Nurse Consultant, Linda Quinn, said the study took a closer look at a pilot program for burns patients called ‘Captains on Call’.

“Captain Starlight isn’t usually involved in medical procedures but Captains on Call aims to provide support to children during burn wound care,” Ms Quinn said.

“Since 2018, two trained Captains have been attending weekly outpatient sessions, working in pairs to provide positive distraction to young patients as they undergo their procedures.

“The program aims to reduce the child’s stress, anxiety and pain, create a positive hospital experience and support clinical staff to provide high-quality patient-centred care.”

As part of the study, patients, caregivers and nurses were all asked to rate the program and provide feedback.

Children and parents rated their experience very positively, with 100% of families desiring Captain Starlight to be present if they were to return to hospital for further treatment.

All of the caregivers said they were ‘very likely’ to recommend the Captains on Call program to other families while all of the nurses said they were ‘very likely’ to recommend the program to other wards or hospitals.

WCH Burns Advanced Nurse Consultant, Linda Quinn, said the feedback showed the Captains provide a positive distraction from the pain and made the hospital a positive place to be.

“The responses also showed the Captains provide important emotional support to caregivers which helps them to better cope with the procedure and be more present for their child,” Ms Quinn said.

“The nurses also consistently commented that the presence of the Captains made their job a lot easier, while also building a sense of community between families and staff.”

Starlight’s National Manager of Research and Evaluation, Associate Professor, Claire Treadgold, said the results of the study further demonstrates the healing power of play.

“While health professionals focus on the child’s treatment, Captain Starlight is the super hero who captures their imagination and creates a healing environment filled with entertainment, fun, laughter and joy. This research highlights the value of positive distraction for supporting patient’s wellbeing,” Assoc Prof Treadgold said.

“Captain Starlight's role may seem simple - playing games, telling jokes and performing magic tricks - but it's an essential part of a child's overall care.”

A second pilot of Captains on Call operates within the Cystic Fibrosis Clinic at the WCH and discussions are now underway to expand the program to other hospitals across Australia.