Play equipment for children

Play and distraction are important, but often underrated, elements in the treatment of poorly children.

Through play and exploration, the play therapists at Southampton Children’s Hospital support children and young people to make sense of what is happening in their treatment.

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.

Five ways that play helps children during a hospital stay

  1. Playing is familiar and reassuring for children. It helps to calm those who are feeling anxious
  2. Our staff use play to explain complex information in a way that is fun, reassuring and easy to understand
  3. Play helps children to communicate any feelings or concerns that they have
  4. Play retreats give children an area away from the ward and help create a continuity of everyday life
  5. Play offers joy and amusement
Child With book, Free Wifi streaming at Southampton Hospitals Charity

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.” – Joyce Stebbings, Play and Activity Manager

This time has been particularly challenging for our Activity and Play Teams as they have been unable to provide their usual sessions. The team have been unable to use toys, sensory equipment or to provide one to one play. Instead, they have provided each child with individual bags containing puzzles, colouring in 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.
  • SENseFlex+: This mobile, sensory unit creates colourful, engaging floor projections which respond and interact to body movement. The Flex 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. 
  • VistaLift+ Interactive Multi-touch Screen: This interactive, sensory screen can go from bed to bed and offer a different experience for each child. Again it features multiple games which can be played by multiple children at one time, helping youngsters to socialise. The screen can lie flat which will allow those with limited movement, or those who have to lay a certain way for a set period of time, to use it. Once again this equipment could be used by thousands of young people each year.
  • Funding Five New Ipads: which 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.