Two new Play Therapists join the team
A core part of the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Arts in Health program, celebrating 10 years this year, is to brighten the lives of patients by giving them access to play through funding Play Therapy in the Hospital.
Over the past few months Play Therapists – Kylie and Susan – have been welcomed to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital with open arms. Kylie is based in Adolescent Ward and Susan in the Outpatients Department.
The WCH Foundation caught up with bright and bubbly Kylie to learn more about her!
What is your previous work experience?
I’ve more than 12 years’ experience as an OSHC Director and SSO working with children experiencing complex behaviours and multiple disabilities.
Throughout this time, I’ve endeavoured to use play as a therapeutic strategy or form of distraction to help children cope with stressful and distressing situations.
What is your goal for Play Therapy in the hospital setting?
Hospital stays can be overwhelming for many patients. My goal is to reduce the anxiety of patients during their hospital stay and bring happiness, laughter and fun to their day.
Through play, you can distract children from the anxiety and uncertainty they feel. This is especially relevant in a hospital environment.
During the first few weeks at the Hospital distraction techniques I’ve used with patients include painting, board games and puzzles.
One patient had a needle phobia, so I used play to distract them when having a blood test. The patient loves AFL, so I played team theme songs and we watched an old game. These activities distracted them, with the test done successfully.
Every patient has individual needs. Can you share how and why Play Therapy techniques differ depending on the needs of the patient?
Young people can be reluctant to engage in play. I’ve found bringing in the Bluetooth speaker and listening to their favourite music is a great way to start building relationships.
From here I’m able to chat to the patient and work out their hobbies and interests to tailor an activity program that is patient initiated and meets their individual needs.
Tailoring play to children’s and young people’s individual needs is vital as it provides them a sense of ownership, a sense of belonging and shows their ideas are valued and respected.
The patient’s health also impacts what activities I will engage them with. Eating disorder patients are often admitted for extended periods and at times their mobility is limited. I believe it is essential to keep their intellect engaged and stimulated to aide in reducing anxiety and depression. Watercolours, macramé, adult colouring, card games and collage vision boards have been thoroughly enjoyed by many.
Whereas table tennis, Uno and Wii games have been a huge hit with our autism spectrum disorder (ASD) patients. I work individually with the ASD children by creating learning stories and carrying out lots of education and awareness around what will happen in their day.
This may include practising to breathe through an oxygen mask in preparation for surgery. Wearing the mask helps to reduce the anxiety and phobia of the surgical team wearing masks. We’ve also decorated many rooms with pictures of their favourite sporting teams or TV shows, to make patients feel more comfortable and relaxed.
There are 11 Play Therapists who work throughout the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Kylie and Susan were employed in their respective roles after Georgie moved on from her role on Adolescent Ward and Claire from Paediatric Outpatients Department after several years of dedicated work.
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