Within the play team there are health play specialists who provide therapeutic play to help children and young people understand, cope with and explore their feelings about their illness and treatment.
Health play specialists are qualified and registered practitioners who work in healthcare and community settings with children from birth to 18 years old.
This includes preparation for procedures such as surgery, having a cannula inserted or an MRI scan. We use a variety of methods tailored to the individual child, including photo books, special dolls, models made from Lego™, role play and so on.
There are also play assistants, who provide age and stage appropriate play activities for children on the ward as inpatients and for children attending the day assessment unit and outpatient appointments. They also provide play sessions for children on the ward for long-term treatment. Play Assistants have NVQ 3 childcare qualifications or equivalent qualifications.
We work with patients using distraction techniques during procedures such as blood tests or having a cannula inserted.
We provide post-procedural play for patients who may need to work through their hospital experience to understand and come to terms with it.
We offer normalising play for children and young people who need to stay in hospital, as well as sessions for patients who are in for long-term treatment.
We also provide sensory and therapeutic play, which includes the use of our sensory room in Basingstoke and sensory equipment on both sites (Basingstoke and Winchester).
A health play specialist has the time to build a positive professional relationship with your child that will allow them to feel safe to ask questions and have open conversations. Reducing anxiety will help your child’s emotional health, which can speed physical recovery from illnesses or procedures.
The play team work with other hospital staff that are caring for your child, including nurses, doctors, radiographers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.