Celebrating the importance of play

play-team_webCelebrations have recently been held at BSUH’s children’s hospital, The Alex, to mark a national initiative to recognise and raise awareness of the benefits of play in the treatment of sick children.

The Trust’s Play Team held a fun-packed afternoon of activities in the play centre, from arts and crafts to jig-saws and foam pits, to celebrate ‘Play in Hospital Week’ which is organised by the National Association of Health Play Specialists. Play is an important part of the care we deliver at the Trust as it helps babies, children and young people deal with their fears and concerns and support their treatment plans.

As integral members of the multi-disciplinary team, the qualified health play specialists provide both normal and specialist play opportunities for children and young people, individually or in groups.

Play Specialist Kate Woodhams said: “When children come into hospital, they may associate it with words like ‘test’, ‘injection’ or ‘operation’, and they may be worried about what might happen.

“It’s crucial that what the children see and feel is positive, so we try to normalise the environment for them as much as possible.”

As well as encouraging general play on the wards and in the dedicated play centre, the play specialists also use play to prepare or distract children when undergoing procedures.

Kate said: “By finding out as much as possible about the child and their situation at an early stage, we’re able to really tailor our approach and ensure it is bespoke and relevant.”

By assessing how the child is feeling and what sort of preparation and distraction techniques are best suited to lessen their anxieties, the Play Team are able to help them form coping strategies designed to improve their outcomes.

The Play Team are very keen to hear from children, young people and their families – so get in touch by calling 01273 696955 extension 2509.