Play service

GIO 6009What we do

Our team of professionally trained Health Play Specialists offer a range of expertise in helping families and their children to cope as well as possible with illness and treatment, closely liaising with the multi-disciplinary teams in Children's Services.

Children may feel overwhelmed by the strangeness of being in hospital and feeling unwell. They may struggle to cope with daily life which has very different routines to normal. They may be fearful of what is happening to their bodies and of the medical treatment they need.

GIO 5992What are the benefits of play services?

  • Creates an environment where stress and worry are reduced
  • Helps children regain confidence and self esteem
  • Provides outlets for feelings of anger, fear and frustration
  • Prepares and enables children to understand treatment, illness and the hospital itself
  • Raises coping methods between children, their parents and staff during medical procedures
  • Contributes towards assessment and diagnosis, and speeds the child's recovery

Our service is for babies, children and teenagers and includes physical, messy and therapeutic play to help make patients: feel at home in hospital, understand their illness and treatment, cope with stress and let off steam. We also provide advice for family members throughout the process, including preparing to go home. 

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We have Play Rooms on the Children's Wards that are open in the mornings and
afternoons offering a range of play and art and craft activities—bedside toy boxes are available in the evenings. At the weekends the Play Rooms are open at the discretion of the nursing staff.

Hospital Play Staff are also available within outpatient clinics during the week—individual support for children undergoing an appointment or procedure can be provided upon request—and a range of toys and activities are available in the waiting areas.

Different roles within the play team

  • GIO 6017Normalising play—using familiar toys and a child friendly environment to provide a sense of safety and normality for the patient.
  • Development play—incorporating physio plans into play sessions. They are also able to use play to make assessments on a child’s holistic development and aid a patient’s progression. 
  • Preparation—done before a procedure. This is where a play specialist will use real medical equipment, play equipment, role play and picture books to explain the process of a procedure to a child.
  • Distraction—used during a procedure to take the child’s attention away from what is happening. This is used to provide a calmer environment for the child and supports their ability to cope with what is being asked of them.
  • Post procedural—provided after a procedure. The play team will use play to reflect with the child about the procedure, giving an opportunity for the child to express their feelings around how it went and how they are feeling.  

Youth Worker service 

Our Youth Worker specialises in working young people aged 11–18 and ensures the young person is seen as a young person and not as a child. They can help:

  • to support adolescent patients experiencing difficulty during their hospital stay
  • provide emotional support and deliver group sessions and activities
  • advocate for the young person, supporting them to speak up 
  • supports transition into adult services

Our Youth worker also leads Our Voice, the Hospital Youth Forum. A safe and confidential space for patients to come together to express views about their hospital experience and work together to help improve the services available to them.

Our team

The Hospital Play Team service is led by David Soulsby, Children's Therapy Lead.

Contact information

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Natalie Cummins
Play and Youth Service Team Lead

Hospital Play and Youth Service
T: 020 3315 8000, bleep 5109
E: 

West Middlesex University Hospital

Natalie Cummins
Play and Youth Service Team Lead

Hospital Play and Youth Service
T: 020 8560 2121, bleep 123
E: 

Gallery

Play service at Chelsea

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Play service at West Mid

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