Since 2011, the Foundation’s Arts in Health program has funded the Play Therapy service at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Our support extends to providing resources, such as arts, crafts, books and toys, for the Play Therapists to use in activities with patients.
Thanks to our generous supporters, the WCH Foundation has expanded the Hospital’s Play Therapy team over the years with 11 Play Therapists now employed and working with hundreds of children every week.
Play Therapists are health professionals who use play to minimise the anxiety, stress and trauma associated with being in Hospital. Their role is to provide a positive and happy environment where patients are free to express their feelings through play. Each child is nurtured and supported as an individual with Play Therapists taking into consideration their unique needs, interests, cultural values and developmental abilities.
Play Therapy can assist healing and rehabilitation, creates a bright and interactive environment, and allows children to participate in familiar activities they would normally engage in at home, kindy or school.
“Medical research shows that distraction and support through Play Therapy can help children understand and cope better with illness, surgery, medical treatments and hospitalisation. Play Therapists help children to feel less anxious and provide an opportunity for the child to make choices and have a sense of control. Play Therapy time is one of the few times in hospital where kids get to make their own decisions. In hospital, treatment is often managed and directed by adult medical clinicians who direct when and how things will happen – whereas PLAY is the time that the young patients get to choose what they want to do and take charge,” Jill Newman, Arts in Health Manager, WCH Foundation.
Meet Play Therapist: Leeza
“Play Therapists are in the unique position where we are a part of the hospital environment, knowing the processes, systems and having rapport with the nurses and doctors, whilst also having the ability to create a fun environment for the patients,” Play Therapist Leeza said.
How Play Therapy makes a difference for patients and their families
Bill is a frequent flyer to Hospital. His mum Steph has shared how engaging in Play Therapy during Hospital stays makes a difference for her son.
“I believe that Play Therapy is a critical part of the Hospital when providing care to children. It allows children to continue to learn, ease any fear or uncertainty, assists to distract children from often stressful or daunting experiences, provides a normality to their day and often facilitates conversations amongst families and children. It is a wonderful service we are fortunate to have.”
“Bill enjoys swapping over his puzzles and board games, checking out the crafts, borrowing toys to take to his room and joining in organised activities. He loves making things for his sister and colouring-in pictures to send back to his kindergarten friends.”