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Palliative Care

Examples of using puppets as a guide in palliative and hospice care

Your first visit with a child:

The puppet might say,

“Hi, my friend! Wow, am I glad I found you! I’ve been looking because everyone in the forest is talking about you. They told me I have to come and visit and bring them to see the nicest, kindest, smartest boy / girl they know. Is it okay for me to show you who came along today?” (You are respectfully asking for permission to be there, allowing the child to have control over the situation). Your conversation might then follow with:

“Hi,______, I’m so happy to finally meet you. Maybe you can hold me while the rest of our friends come out, ‘cause I’m little and I need someone like you to help me.”

Child responds, then one by one the other puppets come out.

Once all the puppets have been introduced, you might ask the child,

“Can we read a story or do a show?”

Be funny, tell a nursery rhyme—whatever it takes and whatever you are comfortable doing. And thus their story begins.

Encouraging a child to eat and improve his/her appetite:

The puppet can indicate he also has a problem with poor appetite and at times doesn’t feel like eating. The puppet might follow with:

“You know, I will help you and you can help me. I’ll take a bite of pudding or medicine and then you take a turn. We’ll do it together.”

Ask if you can go on an imaginary picnic or have a tea party. Both of these ideas work well.

Encouraging a child to take his/her medicine:

The child might say, “Mom says I have to take my medicine, but it tastes ‘yucky’ and it stinks!”

The puppet might respond:

“I know; I gotta do the same thing. How ‘bout we take our medicine together? Then we take a drink together to make the taste go away. And after that we’ll do our show.”

Helping a child with Physical Therapy:

Make it fun! Have the puppets do the same exercises the child has to do. Sing a silly song as you move the puppet’s arms or legs at the same time the child is doing his exercises.

When a child is having G-Tube feedings:

The puppet might say:

“Okay, let’s do this together! Sometimes my tummy hurts too, and I don’t like to do this. But, if you do it with me it won’t be so bad and then we can read a story. How does that sound?”

“No matter the circumstance, situation or setting we may encounter, when we lead with love our hearts will speak, … and the right words at the right moment will follow.”