It’s child’s play at St Mary’s

It was smiles all round for St Mary’s youngest patients when they celebrated national play in hospital week.

Play in hospital week aims to raise awareness of the benefits of play in the treatment of poorly children. It is organised by the National Association of Health Play Specialists, which aims to promote the provision of therapeutic and stimulating play facilities in hospitals and Starlight Children’s Foundation, which brightens the lives of over half a million children in the UK each year.

Healthcare play specialists work alongside doctors and nurses to provide young patients and their families with play, activities and support whilst they visit or stay in hospital.

This may include developmental play for those who have been ill or had an accident and preparation for procedures or support to distract children when needed. Play specialists also organise special events, parties and trips.

At St Mary’s, the theme of the week was ‘play is good for your health’. Patients were encouraged to turn off any gadgets and enjoy playing ‘old skool’ games instead.

Play specialists came into work in fancy dress and two clowns dropped in to make the occasion extra special.

Play specialist Tina Halton said:

“For a young person spending time in hospital adding a little bit of fun and laughter to the day can make a massive difference to the child and their family. We don’t mind looking a bit silly if it helps to cheer everyone up and make their time here a little brighter. Even the staff laughed at our fancy dress. Our aim is to support visits to hospital and ultimately recovery by using the universal medium of ‘play’.

Patients are encouraged to keep up their usual interests while they are in hospital. The team uses games, activities, technology and arts and crafts to help keep the children and teenagers occupied and motivated.

If children are too poorly to go into the play areas and school room, the play specialists can take play to the patient’s bedside and cross ward competitions mean children can compete with one another even when not able to leave their room.

There are lots of special events coming up during the lead up to Christmas – including a pantomime, health awareness fun days, visits from Santa and a children’s party for the whole family.

For more information please contact the press office.