Play in Hospital Week Brings Joy to Local Children

20th October 2022
Health Play Specialist, Sharon Pauley and patient, Holly enjoying play

‘National Play in Hospital Week’ was celebrated in the Children’s Unit in the Ulster Hospital where staff, patients and their families joined together to enjoy arts, crafts and various play activities. Throughout the week, special visitors popped in to see the children in the unit and provided some great entertainment.

This year’s theme for National Play in Hospital Week looked at ‘Play in Resilience and Good Mental Health’ which highlighted the importance of play for everyone’s health. Play can help reduce feelings of anxiety, stress and fear which can be associated with being in hospital and can reduce a child’s feeling of pain associated with hospital treatment. Play and distraction can even be incorporated into hospital treatment to reduce the need for sedation. Play also helps build resilience which can help children become more engaged with their treatment.

Patients and families throughout the hospital were provided with opportunities to explore how therapeutic play can help cope with any pain and fear while they are in hospital. They were able to participate in developmentally appropriate play, art activities and role-play. The Health Play Specialist Team spent time with patients to highlight the importance of their mental health and wellbeing using psycho-education sessions.

Commenting on the success of the week, Health Play Specialist, Sharon Pauley said, “Play is such a vital part of the care we offer children and young people here at the Ulster Hospital. National Play in Hospital Week provided a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the importance of play and recreation for children and young people in hospital. It showcased the positive impact that play and distraction can have on a young patient’s hospital experience.

“Play sessions also provide a space to express and explore feelings associated with treatment in healthcare settings. It gives our patients, their families and our staff the chance to enjoy an array of fun-filled activities.

“We would like to thank Artscare NI, Paeds in a Pod Group and Starlight Children’s Foundation for helping us celebrate the week!”