Airedale play team provide distraction during hospital visits
The play team at Airedale Hospital are transforming the experiences of children coming to hospital by providing play and distraction to help them through their treatment.
Play Specialist Katrina Embleton and Play Leader Karen Reece are now offering a 7 day service whereby staff can call on them to support and distract a child who may be afraid of needles or is having blood taken or help children who may be having an x-ray or need to have a plaster cast fitted and so need to be still for a length of time. The team also work with children who come to hospital regularly to help make their visits a more positive experience, helping to take away their fears and anxiety.
Katrina Embleton, Play Specialist at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust is currently helping two children having treatment:
“One child has a mic-key button (feeding tube) and has been experiencing some difficulties at school in relation to those feeds causing them to be upset and stressed. My first step would be to try and understand what the issue is. It could be that because that child has a feed at break time at school they don’t want to miss out on play time or feel different to their friends. We can explain that everyone is different and also that they can eat at other times which means they don’t always need a feed through their button.
We have another child who is 18 months and having regular treatment and so we start with small steps by working to desensitise them to the blood pressure cuff, which comes first in their treatment, so the child can play with it. We can do things like decorating their own cuff and let them play with it, so they are acclimatised to it.”
Play distraction is proven to make a huge difference to children’s experience of hospitals as it reduces their anxiety and distress.
“We want them to forget about what is going on and take their mind off the environment they are in. It’s a strange environment for them, it’s worrying because it’s not their norm, so you are trying to normalise the situation for them. If children are afraid, their journey through hospital can feel a lot longer, so hopefully with our help they can get through it.”