Play Specialist

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Charity are fundraising for a Play Specialist to support our busy Paediatric Emergency Department. Accident and emergency is an intimidating, loud, scary, intrusive environment for anyone but particularly so for children. Moreover, since the COVID-19 pandemic, infection control measurements have also meant the removal of toys and play equipment from our department which was once a very welcome distraction for our children. We know from research by Starlight (2019) that play has a positive impact on our children and young people. It reduces fear, helps with pain, reduces the need for further treatment and builds future trust. A play specialist helps to bridge the gap between the patient, their family and our busy clinical teams helping to provide excellent child centred care which are paediatric patients so deserve.

Some of the benefits of having a Play Specialist include:

  • Helping a child to understand their illness and why we have to do the treatments needed.
  • Reducing anxiety for children who come into our department, this is particularly relevant for children who attending with mental health needs who may find clinical uniforms daunting or those with autism who may find the busy ED environment very overwhelming
  • Reducing the need for sedation for diagnostics and treatments such as CT scans and providing distraction for scary procedures such as blood tests
  • Making our environment as child friendly as possible, displaying artwork made and supporting infection control procedures to have as many distraction items as possible

Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Charity need to raise £35,000 to support this incredible role and we need your support! Please contact for further information.

The personal stories and benefits of a Play Specialist

We have a playroom team based on our Children’s Ward and we asked them to give us situations where they feel they have really made a difference, as their role is very similar to the role we are looking to fundraise for. This is what they had to say:

“We have had one patient who for has spent her whole life in hospital either with us or GOSH/KINGS hospital in London, she really liked princesses so the team had arranged for Awesome Themed Kids Parties” to come in and spend time with her which she absolutely loved, this patient still speaks about this wonderful experience, it really lifted her spirits and it was so positive for her to do something so normal even though she was still in hospital.”

“On another occasion one of our CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist) Nurses had arranged for a patient who has been in hospital long-term to go to the Luton Fire Station as she loved Fireman Sam, a member of the playroom team accompanied the patient, along with her Mum and her CNS nurse for the afternoon, opportunities like these help children do or experience things that they may not of had the opportunity to do, it enables them to have memories for their selves but also their families.”

From these two stories, you can see that a role like this can make a huge difference to a child’s stay on our wards. We need your help to achieve this!