Vicky Tomkins

Vicky is a Play Worker for Eagle Ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

“I have been working at GOSH since March 2013, so I am relatively new to the role. Before this position I had never worked in a hospital; I have worked mainly in Early Years so I was really looking forward to the new challenges set ahead of me. I have been working in childcare for just over 10 years.

“To be a play worker, you need to have the minimum Childcare level three qualification. As well as this, you need to have the motivation, confidence and experience to come onto the ward every day and take on the challenges that lie ahead of you. We have new admissions arriving most days, so you need to be adaptable to be able to care for the child regardless of age or disabilities they may have.

“I think that to be successful as a play worker you need to be a happy, bubbly and very approachable person, you need to know how to get down to the child’s level. You need to have a friendly welcoming face for the children to feel comfortable and relaxed around you. And definitely need to be good at thinking on your feet, the children are good at throwing all kinds of challenges at you! You need to be able to adapt your abilities quickly and proactively because we get children with lots of different needs, capabilities and ages onto the ward at any one time.

“I love how every day is different, you never know what you are going to be faced with when you arrive in the morning. There are different things going on and you learn something new every day, which is very interesting.

“I’m learning a lot about the medical conditions the children face working alongside my play specialist who does more of the medical side of play. By having a close working relationship with the play specialist it helps me adapt my play techniques to meet the children’s own individual needs, and helps me encourage the progression of their development.

“Half of our ward is for inpatients and half of the ward for children on haemodialysis. Having to adapt play for the children on haemodialysis who have to sit down for four hours per session can sometimes be an interesting challenge. But I really enjoy it.

“It is really lovely to see and hear the happiness from the child and their families and to make an impact on these children’s lives, and also make their experience in hospital as enjoyable and happy as it can be. It is also a very important part of my job role to reassure a child if they are going to be a long term patient that they are not be scared of the hospital environment and to come in and know there’s going to be fun and enjoyment.”

“All this really lets me know my job is a very rewarding, and GOSH is such an amazing place to work.”