COVID-19 has seen many limitations imposed when delivering quality support services. One such area that has been impacted is our dedicated volunteer services. Monash Health volunteer services was suspended temporarily and Visiting Volunteer Program organisations were limited with the services they could deliver.
The Starlight Children’s Foundation Captains and the Radio Lollipop volunteers have continued to make children, adolescents, families and staff smile throughout these difficult times.
Even though Starlight Captains were unable to physically visit patients, they continued to share love, joy and entertain them through Starlight TV. These changed conditions meant that in place of two live shows per day the Starlight Captains were live from 10am to 4pm.
This meant children could interact with the Captains throughout the day by phone or text. The programming includes daily craft activities, quizzes and challenges.
Beck Parker, Starlight Program Manager shared a touching story, “A child who regularly visited the Starlight Express Room was about to complete their treatment, and mum contacted the captains to help celebrate this very important milestone. In the past the captains would join in to celebrate with the family and staff on the ward, or host a party in the Starlight Express Room. Instead the Captains created a video message, sharing how excited they were and created something he could replay and keep to watch at any time”.
On top of their live TV shows the Starlight Captains have worked with Monash Health to make a fun video about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for children to watch and reduce their anxiety of being cared for by staff wearing masks, gowns and gloves.
Radio Lollipop Board Director and resident DJ Greg Hall shared that “Radio Lollipop gives the children a voice and a choice while they are in hospital. While they often can’t say no to the doctors and they have mum and dad making decisions for them, what they can do is say yes with Radio Lollipop by requesting their favourite song, getting involved in the competitions and connecting with other children through the radio.”
Radio Lollipop would have previously rolled the studio DJ desk into the foyer with arts and craft tables, a games area, face-painting and an opportunity for kids to get behind the desk and be the DJ. Radio Lollipop now broadcasts Monday to Friday evenings 6-8pm and Saturday and Sunday mornings 9.30-11.30am.
Music can be heard throughout the foyer building an atmosphere where some staff are even compelled to dance as they walk past.
One evening DJ Greg announced that he was going to perform a TikTok dance routine in the studio if people wanted to watch. To his surprise the curtains of rooms overlooking the Monash Children’s Hospital foyer and Radio Lollipop studio wound up and he had an audience of patients and carers to join in with him. This interaction and people calling in with song requests let the Radio Lollipop volunteers know that people are still tuning in to listen even when they can’t see them in person.
Outside of Radio Lollipop’s live broadcast, the children can listen to Nonstop Lollipop or Radio Lollitots 24 hours a day 7 days a week using their Patient Entertainment System.
The leadership team of Monash Children’s Hospital have been absolutely delighted with how our key partners have responded to support children and families throughout this time.
Our patients and their families have shown an overwhelming amount of support and appreciation for the continued Starlight Children’s Foundation Captain’s Television and Radio Lollipop broadcasts.
The Starlight Captains can be reached live on air via Ext 23008 or by phone or text on 0490 796 442
The Radio Lollipop volunteer DJs can be called via Ext 23999 or emailed on email@example.com.
Approved by Anjali Dhulia, Chief Medical Officer – 24 June 2020