Health Play Specialist of the Year: Emily Hodgkins

Starlight is proud to announce that our 2023 Health Play Specialist of the Year is... Emily Hodgkins, from Oxford Children’s Hospital, part of the John Radcliffe Hospital!

Because of the fast-paced nature of the emergency department, Emily has to react quickly to implement techniques that relax the children and help manage their pain. Emily uses her 19 years of experience as a health play specialist to normalise the hospital environment for ill children when they’ve been rushed in and are extremely frightened.  

"A child’s first experience in hospital can be traumatic and shape their perception of hospitals for life. So, receiving this award is an opportunity to spread awareness about our role and how we can positively impact a child's experience."

Emily Hodgkins

It’s healthcare specialists like Emily who are our real life superheroes. Hospital is a scary place and play makes it better. Emily helps children overcome the trauma and anxiety they feel when admitted to hospital and gives them a voice in a high stress environment. The fact she manages all of this in a busy emergency department is particularly impressive. Emily is a true inspiration.

Cathy Gilman, Chief Executive of Starlight

"Emily literally makes our days better, and that’s for infants, children and young people, their families or carers, and also the staff. The comfort she brings to our young patients, the therapeutic play and procedural preparations she facilitates for us in the emergency department, ensure our interventions and interactions can be most effective and efficient. She is our shining star; she is our starlight. And she deserves to win this!"

Claire Osborne, Paediatric Advanced Practitioner, at Oxford Children’s Hospital

Visit our 2023 Play in Hospital Week hub to learn more about this year’s winners and see how else we’re celebrating.