Hospital Play Specialist Careers

How to become Hospital Play Specialist

What does a Hospital Play Specialist do?

Hospital play specialists plan and supervise activities with children in hospital and help them express their feelings through play. They encourage children to develop their creative skills to show their thoughts and worries relating to hospital, helping them to adapt to any restrictions they may have resulting from hospitalisation.

They work with children of all ages. Their work involves: using play to welcome children to hospital; preparing them to cope with surgery or other procedures; enabling them to manage fears about separation from parents; encouraging children to keep up their usual interests; using specific play techniques to minimise stressful events by acting them out in advance.

They use play as a means of communication with young children, keeping them in touch with their community, teaching them facts regarding their illness and correcting any misplaced worries they may have in order to reduce anxiety. They may have some training in children's nursing before going into this role though many also train on the job.

What's the working environment like working as a Hospital Play Specialist?

Hospital play specialists may work full or part-time. They work during the day, at weekends and during school holidays - children may be in hospital all year round.

Hospital play specialists are based in special paediatric wards and other departments where children are admitted. Their work may involve physical activity such as bending and light lifting.

What does it take to become a Hospital Play Specialist?

To be a hospital play specialist, you should:

  • have an interest in children and their development
  • be able to build good relationships with children, their parents and carers
  • understand the needs of children and young people
  • have strong communication skills and be good at listening to children
  • have good organisational skills, able to plan activities with children
  • be creative, versatile and flexible, able to adapt to the needs of individual children
  • work well as part of a team
  • be patient and tolerant
  • have stamina
  • be aware of health and safety issues
  • be aware of equal opportunities issues

Hospital Play Specialist Career Opportunities

Hospital play specialists are employed by NHS hospital trusts in hospital wards, outpatient departments, accident and emergency departments, child development centres, hospices and in community work with community paediatricians. With further experience and training, there may be opportunities for progression to team leader or team manager.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Hospital Play Specialist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850

NHS Careers
PO Box 376
BS99 3EY
Tel: 0845 606 0655

Customer Response Team
One 90 High Holborn
Tel: 0870 240 9800

National Association of Hospital Play Staff (NAHPS)
Forty Green

Hospital Play Educational Trust (HPSET)
PO Box 30
Tel: 0161 439 5800

Play Scotland
Midlothian Innovation Centre
EH25 9RE
Tel: 0131 440 9070

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