A therapeutic program for children in hospital

In conjunction with Hadassah Hospital’s Director of Paediatric Education and Therapy Services (Edna Pinchower) and the Chairman of Department of Paediatrics (Prof Eitan Kerem), the Journey to Hospital Land program has been developed by Melbourne based award-winning author and child and adult psychologist, Esther Takac.

It is designed for the Israeli hospital system, which provides a unique cross cultural environment where religious Jews, secular Jews, Muslim and Christian Israeli Arabs and Palestinians spend time together. This provides a real window of opportunity for getting to know ‘the other’ and reducing fear, mistrust and stereotypes.

The program has three components…

1. ‘Yoni’s journey to Hospital Land’

A therapeutic storybook which helps children manage the hospital experience (including pain management, relaxation breathing and cognitive behaviour therapy strategies tailored for children).

2. ‘Parents’ Guide to Hospital Land’

Providing ideas for parents to support their child through the hospitalisation experience.

3. A Hospital Land website

A place for children to share experiences and gather ideas.


Yoni’s journey to Hospital Land’  - EXCERPT FROM 'TRAVEL GUIDE'

Going to hospital can be strange and a bit scary. Everything is so different!

The doctors with their stethoscopes, the machines that beep, the other kids in bandages, the noises and lights when you’re trying to sleep, the food, the people you meet, even the strange medical language the doctors and nurses speak!

It’s all so different it’s rather like being in a different land – you could call it Hospital Land!

When people travel to a foreign land they often take a travel guide to help them find their way. It tells you what to expect and how to behave.  So this book is a travel guide to Hospital Land – helping you find your way in hospital and know what to expect. It tells you what happens when you first come into hospital, what the nurses and doctors do and what it’s like sharing a room with somebody you don’t know.

And just like travel guides have traveller’s tips and a little dictionary so you can manage with the different customs and language, so this book also has tips. They can help you manage in hospital, such as how to go to sleep when it’s noisy and what to do if you’re nervous about blood tests. There’s also a little dictionary so you can understand some of that foreign medical language.

All travellers set out on their journey not knowing exactly where it will lead them. Sometimes its only when we journey away from the things we know that we learn new things about the world, and ourselves.

I wonder what you will learn in your journey to hospital land!


‘Parents’ Guide to Hospital Land’ - EXCERPT FROM 'MEETING THE OTHER'

In hospital you and your child will meet people from different cultural backgrounds.

They may be people you would never meet or talk to in your normal life. In fact, you may find yourselves in very close contact with these “other” people. If they are fellow patients, you may be sharing a room, using the same bathroom or kitchen.  This culturally different person may also be looking after you in the hospital  – a doctor, nurse or teacher. It can feel awkward and uncomfortable at first.

However, you are likely to see that here in hospital the usual separations between people are less relevant. Here the divisions are between the sick and the healthy. And the healthy, no matter what background they come from, are all working together to help the sick. In this world of sickness and health, where we are all made of the same flesh and blood, different relationships develop.


The program is now almost ready. It will be distributed to children and their parents in paediatric departments at Hadassah and a range of other children’s hospitals across Israel. 

Esther’s work on research, development and writing the story and parents’ guide, and the illustrator’s work have been contributed on an honorary basis. Financial contributions have been made by Hadassah hospital and donors in Israel. However additional donations are required for creating the website, and printing Yoni’s Journey to Hospital Land Storybook and Parents’ Guide.