01st June 2016 Written by Skills for Health

Image: The Play team.To celebrate International Children’s Day on June 1st, Skills for Health and National Skills Academy have launched a week-long celebration to honour our children’s health heroes, giving everyone a chance to say ‘thank you’ to those who work in paediatric care – whether they’re volunteers, cleaners, postmen or chefs.

The Play specialists at Sheffield Children’s Hospital have a hugely important role in making children’s time in hospital as comfortable and as fun as possible. The Outpatients team at Sheffield Children’s Hospital includes Donna Webster-Payne, Katie Farrell and Kelly Taylor. They cover a variety of hospital areas including the plaster room, the bloods room and a mixture of treatment rooms.

The Experts in Play

Donna said: “I’ve worked here for 31 years and I’m still as enthusiastic when I wake up in the morning as I was when I started. I love coming in to work every day.”

“It is about taking children’s attention away from the procedure they are having and moving the focus to play. It makes it easier for them to cope with things. One-to-one individual time is so important for that.

“We also have the knowledge and the skills to identify children in the waiting room who are showing anxieties. If we can work with them straight away, we can avoid a situation where the child is already upset by the time they arrive in the consulting room.”

Though as Donna explained, sometimes the parents need attention too. “We also spend talking to parents and taking the time to listen to what they need. They need time and acknowledgement for both themselves and their children. They can feel like they don’t have a role when their child is having a procedure and we can help with that.”

Get Involved!

Katie added: “This was my first job after I qualified. But I don’t think I could work anywhere else. You don’t know what the day will bring so it is always a nice surprise. You’ve got to get stuck in, get involved!”

A key part of their role is distraction – helping children to think of something other than their treatment. That might be through craft activities, talking to the child or another form of personalised play.

In March the team won the Trust’s 2016 Customer Care Award for the work the team had done to extend play activity into the hospital’s Hearing and Speech department.

Explaining this project, Donna said: “It is easy to look at something and say ‘it’s not my job’. But sometimes you can see it could be your job if you look at it a different way.”

During our Paediatrics Week and International Children’s Day celebrations we will be honouring healthcare support workers, just like Donna and the team, from across the UK and the vital roles they play in our children’s paediatric care.

To get involved or just to find out what we have been up to you can follow the updates here: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ourhealthheroes

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