Play is vital: it can bring a child back down to a level where they are not scared or fearful of what will happen.

This year’s recipients of Starlight’s Play Team 2021 award are a passionate and committed trio of Play Specialists at Ipswich Hospital. Siobhan, Karen and Clare have a combined 40 years of experience caring and supporting children and their families through the power of play and distraction.

The small but cohesive team say their ethos of supporting each other and focusing on communication is at the heart of why they work so well together. This approach allows them to provide the best and most tailored care for each child and their families. Any one of the team can step in and help with a patient because they all understand the differing needs and details of the families. And, thanks to their different characters, the team can fit the right Play Specialist with each child depending on the child’s personality and needs.

The Play Team is a bedrock of our Children’s service. They make play a part of the experience of families every time they come to the hospital, and their positive presence is felt across all of our departments, which is amazing considering there’s only three of them. It’s some sort of play team magical power!”

Consultant Dr Lauren Filby, who nominated the team

Siobhan, the Lead Health Play Specialist, believes recognising the contribution of the Play Team is even more important after the last year of COVID related challenges and continuing pressures on the hospital. A strong relationship between the Play Specialist and the consultants, doctors and nurses in the hospital is really crucial and enables the Play Team to be of maximum use.

Siobhan and the team drive to ensure that each child is supported is widely understood throughout Ipswich and by its staff.  The tools they use, such as the Starlight boost and distraction boxes, are in high demand across the hospital!

As the country heads into the winter season, the wards are already overwhelmed with an influx of patients with respiratory viruses and Siobhan and her team’s support, care and ability to provide fun and distraction will be essential.

This feels like a good time to receive this award. It is certainly a morale booster. It also highlights the role of Play Specialists, not just in our hospital but other hospitals around the UK. For us, this award reflects the work we do with patients, families and our multi-disciplinary team. The doctors, nurses and staff who work within Child Health at Ipswich will all be supportive of this award. Without them we couldn’t do our job.

Siobhan

Meet the other Play In Hospital Week 2021 winners and find out more about how we’re celebrating.