Why children need to play in hospital
Play is vital to the continued development and learning of children and young people. In hospital, play and recreation have an additional purpose in bridging the gap between home, early childhood centre or school and hospital. Play helps children and young people adjust to potentially stressful situations.
Hospital Play Specialists
Play specialists provide therapeutic play programmes for infants, children and young people, both individually and in groups. They work as members of the professional healthcare team to provide activities to maintain learning and development; prepare children and young people for medical and surgical procedures; help children and young people master and cope with anxieties and feelings; support families, especially siblings; contribute to clinical decision making and contribute to improved understanding of the value and importance of play in hospital.
Where are the play specialists in ADHB?
There are play specialists on all wards in Starship Children's Health, including Day Stay, Outpatients and Children’s Emergency. There is also a play specialist who works exclusively with young people from age 12 up. A play specialist and play assistant run a playroom for siblings of babies in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU). Play specialists also work in outlier clinics at Manukau, Waitakere and in the Short Stay Surgical Unit at Green Lane Clinical Centre.
The Hospital Play Specialists Association recommends that hospital play specialists are qualified and registered early childhood teachers. Many have advanced teaching qualifications and/or additional qualifications in fields such as special education, psychology or counselling. Play specialists at Starship Children’s Health undertake a module training programme during their first year of employment. Professional development is provided by the Hospital Play Specialists Association and play specialists are also encouraged to access a variety of inservice courses and training.
After two years’ employment, play specialists can apply to become certified. Certified hospital play specialists have met basic competency and experience requirements of the Hospital Play Specialists Association and are required to regularly update their knowledge and skills.
For further information about becoming a certified play specialist, see www.hospitalplay.org.nz