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Meet the Play team

What is the Play team? 

The Play team is a department at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), made up of play specialists and play workers. Funded by Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity), the team works with children undergoing treatment at the hospital to minimise trauma and create a positive environment through play. They use their expertise to create specialised play sessions for each child, helping them feel calm, in control and informed about what’s happening.   

Why play? 

Play Specialist Sian Spencer-Little, who works in the Clinical Research Facility at GOSH, explains the power of play: 

“Play is vital for children and young people in hospital. It’s a fundamental aspect of childhood, and is essential to wellbeing, growth, and emotional development. By giving children access to play spaces, with support and guidance from the Play team, children and young people can explore and settle in. This helps them make sense of what’s happening in their bodies and the treatment and interventions offered.  

“When the environment and routines change, with high levels of worry and uncertainty, having access to play offers a safe and grounding resource. This is calming and evokes joy in an otherwise stressful situation.” 

How can play help when self-isolating? 

The Play team often supports children who are in isolation, or who have to stay at GOSH for long periods of time. As COVID-19 forces children to stay inside, away from friends, family and school, play is a fantastic tool to help children take back some control.  

Sian explains: “Play in isolation offers children and young people an opportunity to connect and form relationships, even in one place. Offering a window of normality, play provides a safe distraction to encourage imagination and communication. When children are feeling out of control, play gives them some sense of choice and voice, as they get to choose what they can play with and when this will happen.  

“For children staying for long periods of time, making a plan is vital. We ask how they’d like to decorate their room, what types of play and activities will happen throughout the week, shall we start a project?” 

How can the Play team help you? 

The Play team’s experience in helping children through isolation at GOSH puts them in a great position to help children across the UK and beyond who are struggling with the huge changes brought by COVID-19. Parents want to minimise trauma and make this time as easy as possible for their children – and the Play team shares that goal in hospital, every day. That’s why the team is sharing a wealth of resources, which you can find on our Power of Play hub.  

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