Very Special Kids hires a Child Life Therapist – Shari Manley

In early 2019 the Very Special Kids hospice team welcomed their first Child Life Therapist, Shari Manley into the fold.

Child Life Therapists (CLT) are responsible for supporting a child to ensure their voice is heard and their needs are met within the healthcare environment. These specialised practitioners work to actively alter the setting and the people around the child so that the child is actively involved in their own decision making.

Shari had a background in speech therapy before she first discovered CLT at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

“I came to understand that there is no other job like CLT and that it allowed me to explore and enhance many aspects of my character including my interest in advocating for children, educating others, creating new programs, listening to children, responding to their wishes and supporting children to navigate their healthcare journeys with confidence and success” said Shari.

Shari has been working closely with the existing hospice staff to create an integrated approach to care.

“My first impression was of the Nurses and Carers and the pure love, care and kindness shown to the children. The children are not referred to as patients and there is so much room for children to be themselves” she said.

“I share most of my days with Belinda (Physiotherapist) and she has been a huge help in assisting me to adjust to the environment. It’s so great to work with someone who is willing to collaborate as this has great outcomes professionally and for the children”

Shari was drawn to Very Special Kids because of the opportunity to build a new CLT program from scratch. She is providing her expertise to create a CLT program that works specifically for the hospice environment.

“I thrive in environments where creativity is encouraged and ideas are nurtured and I knew that was possible here” she said.