Starlight Health Play Specialist of the Year

Starlight, together with the National Association of Health Play Specialists (NAHPS), are celebrating the amazing work of Health Play Specialists with our first ever Starlight Health Play Specialist of the Year Award.

Health professionals across the country have been nominating their colleagues, the standard was incredibly high across the board and it is fantastic to hear that there is so much brilliant practice happening within the play specialism, we simply couldn’t achieve our mission to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families without them.

The award was judged by Starlight CEO Cathy Gilman, Chair of NAHPS Penelope Hart-Spencer and Chair of HPSET Tina Clegg and we are delighted to announce the winners are as follows:

1st Place- Frenchesca James- University College London Hospital.

Frenchesca received nominations from a number of enthusiastic colleagues at UCLH who highlighted that her warmth, dedication and enthusiasm in the role of Health Play Specialist, have made her an indispensable part of the team.

“Frenchesca has boundless energy and she is honest, open and incredibly warm. Young people can tell quickly whether adults are genuine or not. They don’t want professionals who try to be “one of them” but they do want to be heard, thought about and “held”. Frenchesca does this with humour and a sparkle that is a joy to witness.” Dr Simon Lewis, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at UCLH

Christopher Dean, Nurse Educator for Paediatrics and Adolescents at UCLH, explained how Frenchesca goes above and beyond to ensure the experience of children and young people is enhanced throughout their stay: “Frenchesca goes out of her way to provide new and exciting opportunities and activities for our young people in the form of Zumba, arts and crafts, baking, breakfast clubs and even an end of summer silent disco party! Frenchesca is not only a vital and essential member of the ward team but also has a pivotal role in helping our young people have a more tolerable time in hospital, which aids their recovery time.”

2nd Place- Sarah Stephenson- Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Sarah received nominations from her colleagues which really emphasised the passion she shows for her role as a Health Play Specialist.  She tailors her work to meet the individual needs of children in the orthopaedic ward, supporting them through treatment and making a really positive difference to their experience of hospital.

“She personalises the experience for the children. For some of anxious patients she does thorough prep work with them to reduce anxiety. She stays late to be there for a patient and support them through their procedures.” Isabella Victor, Paediatric Staff Nurse at Evelina London Children’s Hospital

3rd Place- Phillipa Bradshaw- Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Phillipa achieved third place for excellent techniques employed to prepare a child for treatment and the way she willingly shares her knowledge and skills with nursing staff, doctors and students.

“She always ensures that they understand and are aware of how imperative the play service is to children undergoing treatment for cancer. She is a vital member of the multi-disciplinary team and is well respected by all of her colleagues due to her vast knowledge and experience.” Laura Healy, Practice Educator at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital