Services provided by the Play department

Play Worker and Play Specialist uniforms

The Play service at Great Ormond Street Hospital provides and supports opportunities for play to happen and also delivers specialist play preparation, all for children and young people in outpatient clinics and on the wards. All play is therapeutic and to be able to access play during treatment is an important part of retaining joy for children and young people (and their families).

Play is the language of children and it is how children experience the world. Play builds relationships and trust between people.

There are Play Specialists and Playworkers throughout the hospital – they work as a team and have different roles. Here is some of what do they do:

Play workers:

  • Have a minimum level 3 in Playwork, Child Development or Childcare and education.
  • Have an understanding of different theories of Child Development, this helps them to make an assessment play needs.
  • Have experience and understanding of inclusivity and diversity in childhood and how to actively promote and support this.
  • Enjoy supporting play opportunities and finding creative ways to make play possible when there are physical and emotional barriers.
  • Give support and advice to parent and other care-givers on ways they can support play.
  • Supports general play either in the play/adolescent rooms or at the bedside.
  • Are playful.
  • Are excellent at holding space for children’s play, they don’t dominate with their own agenda.
  • Source creative, fun activities and social opportunities for children and young people while they are in hospital.
  • Support children, young people and their families with the strategic use play-based techniques.
  • Undertake observations and assessments relating to play sessions.
  • Contribute to patient notes and documentation.

Play Specialists:

  • All of the above – plus…
  • A further qualification and training in Health Play Specialism or therapeutic play interventions.
  • Help children and young people to recognise existing coping strategies and form new ones.
  • Use their skills to Prepare children and young people for procedures and treatments by putting them in the driving seat and supporting understanding and myth-busting.
  • Work with children, young people and families on the most effective ways to distract from procedures and treatments, when appropriate.
  • Support children to make sense of what they are experiencing with the strategic use of play-based techniques.
  • Offer distraction, relaxation and desensitisation techniques for children and young people undergoing medical procedures.