Qualification: NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Early Years Educator
Unit: Unit 1.5: Understand how to support children who are unwell
Learning outcome: Understand the therapeutic role of play in hospitals
Assessment criteria: Describe the therapeutic role of play in hospital in supporting children’s recovery
Children’s wards in hospitals will usually have toys, play areas and even specialist staff that support children to play. This is because play is recognised as an essential component of recovery. It can also prepare a child for what will happen, relieve stress and distract them from any negative feelings, such as pain or worry.
The act of play can help children feel more control over what is happening to them. It can help them to express emotions, and observing adults may be able to understand what the child is thinking and feeling.
Children are often encouraged to bring a toy home with them when visiting a hospital. This can help them keep the connection with their normal lives because it is familiar to them. Medical professionals can use the child’s toy as a talking point and a prop to help explain what is happening.
If children have mobility difficulties, toys and games will be brought to their beds for them to play with.
Also, at times, the children on the ward may be encouraged to talk to and play with one another.