Spotlight on Hospital Play Specialists – #MyBTH

Play Specialists Gemma Probin and Roseanne Norman with patient Scarlett Hackett

As part of our #MyBTH campaign, we are highlighting individuals, teams or services that have an important role within the Trust, but who are not often heard of or understood.

Here we look at the role of  Hospital Playworkers…

The title Hospital Play Specialist was coined in the 1970s to define to the role of a group of staff who supported children through the use of play in hospital.

Play has a special function in the hospital environment and Play Specialists lead playful activities and use play as a therapeutic tool.

At Blackpool there are seven Play Specialists who cover various hospital departments. Their role is to normalise play in order to make a child’s journey less stressful.

The service is available seven days a week until 7pm. The Play Specialists can be bleeped to help in a department and also have a designated day where they accompany children to theatre.

Roseanne Norman has been working as a Play Specialist at the Trust for 15 years. She said: “Being able to offer our service is amazing.

“Not only does it help the children feel less anxious, it also helps the parents. We can make the day go quicker and take the focus away from treatment.

“We can also give parents a break and look after the child so they can grab a coffee or nip home.

“Introducing play helps children to switch off. It is also hard to assess a child in a bed. By playing, the children often forget their injuries or illness so we can more accurately assess their progress.

“Play is also a way to see if children have reached development milestones.”

The team join the nurses at handover each morning and patients are prioritised according to need.

The Children’s Unit has two designated soft play areas, a sensory room and an adolescent area which gives lots of space for children to explore while they wait for their appointment.

Up on the Children’s Ward, the hospital is lucky enough to have a large play room, again with soft play area, tables, chairs, sensory area and of course lots of toys.

There is also an adolescent unit which has a football table and has more technical games to keep teenagers occupied.

The Adolescent Unit has recently had a facelift to make it look more welcoming. Thanks to money provided via hospital charity, Blue Skies Hospitals Fund, the walls are much more colourful with vinyl wall coverings.

Roseanne added: “I am very passionate about my job and very privileged to be supporting young patients through their journey.

“We get to know our regular patients which really helps on their visits and we make the process a lot less difficult.”

The Children’s Unit has two Ward Managers, Sue Cawley and Isabel Spencer. Sue said: “Play is the most important thing for children in hospital and we are really proud of our play team.”

Isabel added: “Our play team do an amazing job which is such an important role in supporting the nursing and medical staff.”

#playinhopitalsweek runs from October 9-15.


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