Charity-funded hospital play areas ease stress for children and parents

Three-year-old Eva Murdoch in the new play area with Orthoptist, Cath Gray

Children now have safe and fun places to play in Outpatients’ areas thanks to a health Trust’s charity.

Staff helped to design the colourful new areas at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and parents and children have given them the thumbs-up.

Funded by the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, the charity of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the play areas help to distract children who are receiving treatment for a variety of conditions.

The play areas are part of the recent redevelopment of the Outpatients’ Department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital which Blue Skies also funded.

Elaine Fishwick, Outpatients’ Manager for the Trust, said: “The new play areas make it a better experience for children when they visit our hospital.

Two-year-old Kaila-Rose Grierson with Paediatric Nurse, Mandy Sanderson

“The play areas can take their mind off what they are here for. It also distracts them from any pain they are experiencing.

“It calms them down so it’s less stressful. People looking after children can be anxious. It makes such a difference to them.

“We’re delighted with the new play areas. Everyone has commented on how good they are. We are so grateful to Blue Skies.”

Leanne Lamb, a play specialist from the Trust’s Women and Children’s Department, and Mandy Sanderson, a Paediatric Nurse in the Outpatients’ Department, led the design process. They said they had given the areas a seaside theme so that there was some continuity with the Children’s Ward, which has similar artwork.

From left: Elaine Fishwick, Outpatients’ Manager; Leanne Lamb, Play Specialist; Mandy Sanderson, Paediatric Nurse and Nicci Hayes, Fundraising Officer for Blue Skies Hospitals Fund.

One of the play areas is in Orange Waiting Area where children attend the Trust’s Orthopaedic Clinic and the other is in Lilac Waiting Area where children see orthoptists about eye conditions.

Elaine added: “Leanne and Mandy have done a marvellous job of designing the areas. We’d also like to thank Dr Peter Curtis for his input.”

Leanne said: “When children come into hospital they can be distressed so we wanted to create a calming area for them.

“Parents have said what a difference it makes to have these areas.”

Cath Gray, an Orthoptist for the Trust, said: “It’s wonderful. The play areas make a massive difference. Children often need to have eye drops and then they have to wait 20 to 30 minutes before they are called in again. Now there is somewhere they can play happily.”

Julie Murdoch from Blackpool, whose three-year-old daughter Eva receives treatment in the Orthoptics Department, said: “The new play area is great. Eva doesn’t have to sit with the adults. She has been making ‘beans on toast’ for the staff! She loves it.”

Nicci Hayes, Fundraising Officer for the Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, said: “The play areas look absolutely wonderful and we are so pleased that the children are getting lots of enjoyment from them at what can be a very anxious time.”

From left: Mandy Sanderson, Paediatric Nurse; Nicci Hayes, Fundraising Officer for Blue Skies Hospitals Fund; Leanne Lamb, Play Specialist; Elaine Fishwick, Outpatients’ Manager and Cath Gray, Orthoptist with three-year-old Eva Murdoch in one of the new play areas





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