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Hospital highlights the importance of play for poorly children

The ‘Superheroes’ of York Hospital’s Childrens ward are out and about this week promoting the power of play in the treatment of poorly children in hospital.

‘Play in Hospital Week’ runs between 8 – 14 October and celebrates the little known but hugely important role of the play team. They are registered hospital play specialists and qualified nursery nurses who help provide a child friendly and welcoming environment that helps bridge the gap between home and hospital.

Behind the scenes the play team help make a child’s stay in hospital fun by providing them with activities, toys and equipment. Part of their role is to prepare children for hospital life and distract them during medical procedures.

Leanne Haycock, hospital play team leader, explained: “Play is very important not just on the children’s ward, but throughout the hospital, as it eases hospital fears and anxieties. It helps children to understand treatments and illness, through the use of models, photographs and medical or play equipment. This helps them to prepare for hospital procedures and treatment.”

The team creates a programme of play to meet the needs of each individual child which helps with their recovery and their development. Play-based observations can also make a contribution when making clinical judgements.

Claire Kilmartin, sister on Children’s ward, said: “The play team make a big difference when it comes to assessment and diagnosis of the children. Something as simple as a blood test can be very frightening to a child, particularly when they are feeling poorly, and the skills of the play team in distracting and encouraging children helps boost a child's confidence and self-esteem. Play helps the children to regain control and express a choice with regards to their treatment.”

Leanne added: “We develop good relationships with the families, which is crucial as parents often feel helpless in the face of their child’s illness. Parents are encouraged to interact with their children through play as part of the child’s recovery. As play specialists we have a unique role in the hospital, leading playful activities and using play as a therapeutic tool to complement clinical care.”

15 October 2018

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The team creates a programme of play to meet the needs of each individual child which helps with their recovery and their development. Play-based observations can also make a contribution when making clinical judgements.

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