Services for Young Children

Working as a hospital play specialist

What is a hospital play specialist?

Hospital play specialists plan and supervise activities with children in hospital to help them express their feelings through play as a means of communication. They encourage children to develop their creative skills to show their thoughts and worries relating to hospital.

What will I be doing?

Play specialists work with children of all ages. Their work includes:

  • Using play to welcome children to the hospital.

  • Preparing them to cope with surgery or explaining any medical procedures.

  • Enabling them to manage fears about surgery or about separation from parents/carers.

  • Using specific play techniques to minimise stressful events by acting them out in advance.

  • Using play as a distraction while children are undergoing stressful or painful procedures.

  • Supporting families, including siblings of patients.

  • Advising parents/carers and staff on appropriate play for sick and injured children.

You will need to study for  the Level 4 Professional Diploma in Specialised Play for Sick Children and Young People. In order to be eligible for this course you will need:

  • An appropriate qualification in a subject such as childcare, art, drama, music therapy, nursing, psychology, occupational therapy, social work or teaching.

  • At least 3 years recent and relevant experience of working with children.

  • To be at least 20 years old.

It is possible to begin working in this area as a hospital play assistant and with experience and further training progress into the role of play specialist. Play assistants are required to have experience and a qualification in a relevant field.

How do I find out more?

Find out more about working as a hospital play specialist and search for jobs on the NHS website.  


Want to find out about other careers?

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