The role of a play specialist in emergency care red
Charge nurse Williams Pinto and play specialist Sarah Smith

Specialist play therapy now available to children at Musgrove Park

CHILDREN who need care and treatment at Musgrove Park Hospital’s emergency department (ED) now have the services of a play specialist to help cope with the fear and confusion they often feel.

A spokesperson for the hospital said: “While our colleagues in ED provide outstanding care for our younger patients, they don’t always have that extra bit of time to help with the non-clinical part of their care.

“Step in Sarah Smith – who has been appointed as our first ever play specialist in ED, complementing the excellent work done by the existing team of play specialists in our children’s unit.”

Sarah said: “I worked on Musgrove Park’s children’s unit for 12 years and on occasions colleagues on ED would request play specialist support.

“I have always taken great pleasure in the positive outcomes of children I have supported and our children’s unit matron Louise Hill – formerly an ED sister – noticed my smile and satisfaction following an intervention one day – and that’s how this new role first came about.

“My main role is to create a positive and welcoming environment for our younger patients who come into hospital in an emergency.

“When the child first arrives in ED, I look to build a rapport and relationship with them based on their age and developmental level.

“Working with colleagues in the department we track and support the child in ED and look at what we can do to enhance their time with us. That could be something as simple as giving them a colouring book or providing activities on an iPad.


“It can be frightening for a child to come into hospital and a little distraction, such as putting Peppa Pig on the TV or letting them hold and play with a familiar toy during an intervention, can really make a difference.

“If a child has additional needs, we may create a care plan that explains to them in non-medical terms what’s going to happen to them while they are with us.

“A boy came into ED over the summer with a badly broken arm and he had a pre-conception that we were either going to chop his arm off because it was no longer any good or that we would rip it open and stick the bones together!

“It was only by having a conversation with him that we could work out what his fears were. I was able to work with our emergency nurse practitioner to develop a care plan where we supported him during the day, and this meant that he didn’t need to be admitted to hospital or even need general anaesthetic for the procedure.

“This completely changed his hospital experience.”




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