PLAY IN HEALTHCARE AND THE ROLE OF THE HEALTHCARE PLAY SPECIALIST.
PLAY IN HEALTHCARE
The value of play in the development of children is recognised by experts and, for the child or adolescent in healthcare, play has a very special significance. It is not a way of keeping them quiet or passing the time, it is part of the treatment they receive.
Play is important, both in preparing children for what is going to happen and in providing ways for them to work through anxieties and fears and deal with their experiences in healthcare. Children's wards should have an area for play and activities managed by a qualified and registered healthcare play specialist. If children are admitted to an adult ward or to a unit on another site, the play specialist should visit the child to advise on activities or to devise a play programme for them.
THE ROLE OF THE HEALTHCARE PLAY SPECIALIST
Healthcare Play Specialists provide therapeutic play programmes for children of all ages, individually and in groups. They are usually based in a ward playroom, but also work in Out-Patients Clinics, A&E departments, Intensive Care Units, Adolescent Units and within Community Paediatric Teams and Hospices where their work is an adjunct to the clinical care.
- Provide play to achieve developmental goals
- Use play to prepare children for hospital procedures
- Lead distraction and alternative focus activities for children during procedures
- Help children to master and cope with anxieties and feelings
- Provide recreational outlets and fun activities in the clinical environment.
- Support families, particularly siblings
- Contribute to clinical judgments through their play based observations of children
- Teach the value of play for the sick child to staff and students.
- Advocate for the emotional developmental needs of children, babies and young people throughout the healthcare journey
Further information on a career as a Healthcare Play Specialist can be the found on the website of the professional organization The National Association of Healthcare Play Specialists (NAHPS) www.nahps.org.uk
Information on a career as a Play Therapist can be found on the website for the British Association of Play Therapy: www.bapt.uk.com (HPSET is not responsible for the content of external sites.)