Our Specialists

Our Specialists


Find out more about the different roles in the Therapeutic and Specialised Play Service and what we do below.

Play service manager

To lead & support a team of qualified & registered Health Play Specialists & play assistants

To actively promote the value of good practice within the team.

To ensure that play in all its forms is available to children & young people during their stay or visit.

Health Play Specialists

A Health play specialist will use play as a therapy to help children and young people cope with a hospital admission or appointment.

Our role involves helping both inpatients and outpatients channel feelings of pain, anxiety and fear so they can make sense of their medical condition and feel more relaxed and at ease in the hospital setting.

We engage the children & young people in ‘normalised play’ & ‘therapeutic hospital play’ we also offer distraction therapy during painful and frightening medical procedures.

We offer therapeutic preparation sessions for patients with anxieties & fears about hospital.

We link in closely with the learning disability & Autism liaison team. 

Play Leaders

We aim to meet each patient’s needs and work closely with Health Play Specialists on the wards to provide developmental & fun play activities.

We create a warm & welcoming safe child friendly environment alongside the Health Play Specialist.

What is preparation?

A Health Play specialist will prepare the child/young person for treatments and procedures which may be necessary by using equipment such as books, specialist dolls, breathing and relaxation techniques, bubbles, puppets and a wide variety of other age and stage appropriate resources.

This allows your child to express themselves freely through play which then helps us to discover your child’s needs thus preparing your child effectively for the best possible hospital experience.

Talking through any fears or concerns regarding treatment helps the  child or young person form ways of coping and managing their feelings which can help lessen the impact of a hospital admission or visit.

What is distraction?

Distraction therapy by a Health Play Specialist is used to appropriately engage the child or young person in an activity that will help distract their attention away from what is happening to them during a medical procedure such as a blood test, MRI scan or dressing change.

It seeks to enable the child to develop coping skills for future treatment or procedures.

Successful distraction involves cooperation from the child and their family.

The type of distraction used will depend on the child’s/young person’s age and abilities.

Examples include:

  • Cuddling (by parent)
  • Dummies
  • Sensory toys
  • Bubbles
  • Singing
  • Nursery rhymes
  •  Poems
  • Cause & effect toys
  • 3D projectors
  • Books and puzzles
  • Interactive apps
  • Breathing techniques
  • Guided imagery
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Alder Hey Children's Charity
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