Last week, we marked ‘National Play in Hospital’ Week, where we celebrated the benefits of play for sick children who are treated at our Children’s Hospital.
Play is a crucial element in achieving the best clinical outcomes for our patients, as it is used to comfort and reduce anxiety within children of all conditions, ages and personalities. Preparation is one element of play and our Play Specialists provide when supporting patients - by giving them a chance to interact with certain types of equipment before it is used, to reduce their anxiety.
Emma Eardley, Deputy Manager of the Play and Youth Service team, said:“Play is so hugely important and our team of Play Specialists, Play and Recreational Workers/Facilitators and Youth Workers, all support the clinical teams by delivering play and fun interactions to our patients. For a child in hospital there is very little they have control over so play can give them choices and make their stay in hospital easier, and memorable for positive reasons”
Play is also a positive way to facilitate learning experiences and education. For example, when taking blood pressure, our Play Specialists turn this into an opportunity to have choices, learn and explore why they need these procedure. An example of this would be when the children have their blood pressure taken, they have the opportunity to see how the arm band inflates and deflates, to show their blood pressure; ensuring that equipment is sanitised and clean for each patient.
Emma Eardley added:“We recognise that hospital stays can be worrying and scary for our patients and their families. As a Play and Youth Service, we aim to reduce this fear and worry by supporting patients and their families during the hospital admission and journey with us through preparation, distraction, post procedural support, emotional support, therapeutic play, empowerment, life skills, advocate, transition all this is done through play and recreation as these are our tools that we use. There are no barriers through play and recreation.”
Our Play team have been ably supported by Singing Medicine’s Ex-Cathedra Vocal Team since 2004. During the pandemic, the Play and Youth Services team and Ex-Cathedra Singing Medicines played a pivotal role in keeping our children safe but entertained whilst visiting our hospital.
Rebecca Ledgard, Director of Education, at Singing Medicines said:“Even though we previously loved performing at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the pandemic opened up a new creative way for us to share our music and play with poorly children. We were keen to find ways to balance fun and safety. Delivering our personalised Talking postcards has allowed us to get to know the children and learn more about what takes their mind away from the challenges that they may face whilst in hospital. Providing a sensory, fun experience doesn’t only reframe the hospital experience – it also makes the time go faster for our young people!”
We’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to our fantastic Play and Youth Services team and Ex-Cathedra Singing Medicines for their work. The thought and attention from our Play Specialists and the Ex-Cathedra is incredibly creative and inspiring to us across our Trust.