Power Of Play In Healthcare: Play In Hospital Week 2023

10th October 2023
Sharon and Gillian with Clown Doctors and patient Laura Buchanan

“Play is an invaluable tool in hospital that aids our dedicated staff in establishing meaningful connections with children and young patients, preparing them for medical procedures.” As we mark Play in Hospital Week, these are the reflections of one of our hospital play specialists who carry out an invaluable role in the South Eastern Trust.

The Play in Hospital team works closely with families and their children, from birth up to 18 years of age, within our healthcare setting. Our holistic approach acknowledges that healing extends beyond medical treatment.

Engaging in play and recreational activities helps keep young minds focused and provides distractions, which in turn, can aid in pain management. This non-pharmaceutical pain management technique, often referred to as distraction therapy, offers children a more comfortable and positive healthcare experience.

Hospital Play Specialist, Gillian Sinclair explained, “Play in Hospital helps children and young people to become familiar with the hospital environment and it helps us as staff be able to prepare them for any new experiences while they are in hospital.”

It continues to play a pivotal role post-procedure, helping children process their experiences and learn essential coping strategies for a more positive healthcare journey.

Hospital Play Specialist, Sharon Pauley highlighted, “Some children come into hospital very nervous and withdrawn often resulting in them shutting down.

“Whenever we start to work with a child or young person firstly, we build a rapport and trusting connection them, this makes a massive difference.

“Seeing what the patient needs individually is crucial and being able to provide them with normalising appropriate activities to help them settle into the environment is extremely important.”

Our dedicated team is committed to providing developmentally appropriate play and recreational activities tailored to the unique needs of children and young people within our unit. Offering therapeutic activities helps patients explore their feelings about their treatment, reducing trauma and promoting emotional well-being.

By keeping the minds of young patients engaged, the play sessions prevent developmental regression and ensure they do not fall behind in their mental development during their stay in the hospital. Effective communication with our young patients becomes easier, enabling us to better understand how they are coping with their hospitalisation, illness, and treatment.

Hospital Play Specialist, Sharon Pauley added, “Through Play in Hospital you can physically see the patients’ body starting to relax more and them starting to cope better with the medical interventions that are taking place.”