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Caregiver Contest Finalist Gloria: Soothing Medically-Fragile Children

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
05/11/18  3:52 PM PST
soothing

Gloria G. is from California, and was one of forty finalists chosen out of the over 1,000 entries to our “What Advice Would You Give to a Fellow Caregiver?” Contest. You can find our grand prize and runner up winners here.

What advice would you give a fellow caregiver?

Advice for soothing a crying medically fragile child, who does not appear to be ill:

For the past 16 plus years I have care for medically fragile students with special needs ages three to 22 years of age. As their school nurse, on a daily basis I encounter challenging moments when I am caring for a child who is crying but there is no apparent reason for the discomfort.

As I begin my assessment of the situation, the first thing that I do is to create an environment that is quiet and has little distractions.

For example, I turn off TV, music, and if that is not possible, I move the student to a quiet area. I try not to talk too much to the student but if I do, I use a soft voice and explain to the student that I am there to help. Gaining the trust is critical to soothe a medically fragile student. The goal of my approach is to distract the student and make them refocus on a new body sensation, i.e. pressure and coldness. I begin by removing shoes/socks and start rubbing the feet firmly, and then start massaging legs from knee to ankle. I try not to say much so the student can focus attention on the massage and very often the crying stops. If this is not possible, I rub the student’s hands, head and hair. While I am rubbing feet or hand, or head, I blow cold air to the body part with a notebook or a hand-held fan. The cooling sensation and pressure tends to have and instant soothing effect. Removing heavy clothing is useful as a cooling attempt, too. Another technique that I use to soothe a medically fragile child is to wipe slowly the face/hands/arms with a wet cool towel and let the water evaporate; this cools the skin instantly. Once the crying has subsided, I always check their temperature for fever, check their diaper, and change clothing (i.e. soft t-shirt /pants/new socks). Once child is more relaxed, I advise to put on some relaxing music for at least 30 minutes and resume regular activities. 🙂

Click here to head to the contest home page and read more advice.


Finalists were selected by the Marketing Team at Shield HealthCare. Those finalists were submitted to a panel of independent judges who picked three grand prize winners and five runners up. The judges included: Sandra Mitchell, Award-winning KCAL 9 news anchor and breast cancer survivor, and the Landers family: actor and comedian David Landers (“Laverne & Shirley”) who is living with MS, his wife Kathy and his daughter Natalie (“The Middle”). Click here to learn more.