Play is the familiar in the unfamiliar. Medical play helps children feel more comfortable with the equipment and reduces the need for painkillers and sedation.
Unfortunately, play is not a funded NHS provision, so relies entirely on charitable donations costing around £50,000 each year.
Five ways that play helps children during a hospital stay
- Playing is familiar and reassuring for children. It helps to calm those who are feeling anxious
- Our staff use play to explain complex information in a way that is fun, reassuring and easy to understand
- Play helps children to communicate any feelings or concerns that they have
- Play retreats give children an area away from the ward and help create a continuity of everyday life
- Play offers joy and amusement
Changes throughout the pandemic…
Coronavirus has completely transformed the ways in which the NHS delivers care, whilst also changing the lives of millions of children across the country.
Those were scary times for the children. By the time you put on a mask, a gown, gloves it was really terrifying for them because they can’t see our facial expressions.” Play and Activity Manager
This time has been particularly challenging for our Youth and Play Teams as they have had to adapt their usual sessions to meet infection control restrictions. The focus is on one-to-one activities which can mean that some children are not seen. They have also provided each child with individual bags containing puzzles, colouring sheets, crafts, and things to make.
Help fund smaller items through the play team’s Amazon wishlist.
How specialist equipment can help our patients
Specialist equipment will help us to provide more children with access to play during a hospital stay and to provide sessions which are tailored to a young person’s unique needs.
- 3D Virtual Reality Glasses: These glasses use VR technology to immerse children in a colourful and engaging world where they can play games. The devices are portable so could be used across the whole of the Children’s Hospital, potentially benefitting tens of thousands of patients each year. These glasses could be used to distract and calm youngsters during uncomfortable procedures.
- Interactive Multi-touch Screen: This sensory screen can lie flat or be freestanding, and is fully accessible for all of our patients. It can be easily moved from bed to bed and into communal spaces. This interactive equipment is specially designed for those with limited movement or those patients who are required to lay a certain way for a set period of time. A child can brush aside leaves or ripples in water, transporting them from busy wards to a faraway world of their own imagining.
- Mobile projection unit: This unit creates colourful, engaging floor projections which respond and interact with body movement. It creates a complete sensory zone by allowing even those with limited movement to alter many aspects of their immediate environment. The unit could be used in group or individual play sessions (subject to Covid restrictions).
- Funding Five New Ipads: These can be used throughout the Children’s Hospital to battle boredom, distract children during treatments and procedures, and allow youngsters to stay to keep in touch with their friends. Each iPad will have a protective case which prevents damage and reduce infection risks. These iPads are always popular with young people.
- Smaller items including craft kits, toys, weighted blankets and noise defenders. These items help put children at ease and allow the Play & Activity Team to do their work.
The play team do so much, but with your help, they could do so much more.