Play Department

The Importance of Play

Children love to play, it is a very important part of their development. Through play, children learn how to build relationships, make friends and share with each other. Play can be imaginative, creative and give opportunities for children to express their emotions. It can also be therapeutic by helping children to adjust to hospitalization. Health Play Specialists and Play Assistants are employed to meet the developmental needs of infants, children and young people while they are in hospital.

The Play Service

Play provision and activities are a part of the total care of the children and young people attending the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh as Inpatients and Outpatients. Play services are organised by registered Health Play Specialists who hold a Diploma or Degree in Healthcare Play Specialism. Play assistants are also employed; all assistants have a child care qualification and are experienced in child care/play work. Play Specialists and Assistants are employed on all the wards plus Critical Care, Outpatients, Accident & Emergency, Planned Investigation Unit and the Department of Surgical Admissions. They provide a wide range of activities and toys as well as preparation/distraction for procedures carried out on the ward, including preparation of a child/young person who is going to theatre.

Coming into hospital

Children and their parents / carers who receive advance preparation for hospital admission often cope better with the events that surround operation day. Preparation of children prior to admission for surgery can help reduce unnecessary fear, distress, and anxiety and creates a more positive and less traumatic hospital and theatre experience. Pre-admission hospital visits, hospital information booklets pre-operative play and pre-operative visiting all assist in the psychological and educational preparation for surgery. The parent / carer is a valued member of the child’s care team and should be encouraged to share in the child’s hospital care. Children have different emotional and physical needs and require appropriately trained and registered play staff who are able to assess and meet their needs to be part of this preparation.

Please feel free to contact the ward your child is going to attend and speak to the Play Specialist, if you have any other questions you or your child may have.

Last Reviewed: 23/07/2015