It’s National Play in Hospital Week from Monday 7th–12th October (more info at http://www.starlight.org.uk/npihw), organised by the National Association of Health Play Specialists (@NAHPS) and supported by Starlight Children’s Foundation (@starlight_uk) a national charity which provides play and distraction services in hospitals and hospices across the UK.
The week of putting play in the spotlight gives us all an opportunity to celebrate the difference play makes in healthcare. Across the country there’ll be play related activities, Twitter will no doubt be alive with pictures! Make sure you share what you are up to on social media and use #Playinhospitalweek #PIHW and tweet @starlight_uk @nahpsofficial too! Why not tag @NHSEngland @NHSImprovement and your local Executives and CCGs?
This year there’s a focus on ensuring play is fully inclusive and that children who have additional needs perhaps related to learning or physical needs, are included too, hence this year’s title ‘Play for all’.
It was the famous ‘John Bowlby’ who said ‘Play is the business of childhood’ and we all know and accept universally now that from the earliest age, play helps children to learn, to make friends and develop relationships, and to have fun. With nearly 49,000 children and young people in the UK living with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition and 5,500 new diagnoses each year, the need for play and entertainment services for children in hospitals and healthcare has never been greater.
Research has highlighted the importance of play in hospital, both in preparing children for treatment, providing ways for them to work through anxieties, fears and importantly deal with their experiences. When children and young people are admitted to hospital they are often at their most vulnerable. Play helps them to adjust to a potentially stressful situation, it helps children & young people to understand why they are in hospital and what will happen; cope with illness and treatment; regain confidence, grow independence and self-esteem; express their feelings and recovery more quickly. Play also creates an environment where stress and anxiety are reduced; it encourages family involvement and it can aid in assessment and diagnosis. It’s a bit of a wonder drug really!
And of course play isn’t just for children as Alison Tonkin (@TonkinAlison) a wonderful play champion reminds me regularly. Us adults like playing too! October provides us with perfect excuse as we play at doing 10k hikes, runs, cycles, bake sales etc and raising money for Cavell Nurses Trust (@CavellTrust). Edith Cavell was a Nurse who cared for soldiers involved in 1st world war, she was tried for treason as she cared for those on both sides and was horrifically shot. The charity established in her name supports nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants when hardship strikes. Nurses too face poverty, ill health and complex social circumstances such as domestic violence. The charity can be a lifeline, providing a listening ear when perhaps it’s difficult to talk to managers about circumstances outside work. The support from Cavell also means that nurses and midwives can get back to work more quickly too, which can be helpful for everyone.
So each October the Cavell Nurses Trust with the fabulous ‘We communities’ run #10kforNurses to raise awareness about their awesome work, raise some funds and (the bit I enjoy the most) have fun in what ever way suits by playing! Do get involved if you can https://www.cavellnursestrust.org/fundraise/ or just feel free to donate the cost of a cup of coffee to encourage me to bank those miles for nurses https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kath-evans9?utm_campaign=pfp-share&utm_content=Kath-Evans9&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_source=Facebook