Play at Great Ormond Street Hospital
We’ve partnered with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity to help transform the lives of seriously ill children at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
Children from all across the UK come to GOSH for life-saving treatments. This extraordinary place has always depended on charitable support to fund ground-breaking research, advanced equipment, the rebuilding and refurbishment of wards and medical facilities, and child and family support services.
Some of the money we’re raising will help fund the hospital’s vital Play Team, who are an integral part of the support that children and families receive while at GOSH. Every day, GOSH play specialists help more than 130 children understand treatments and procedures, from transplants to chemotherapy.
Why does the hospital need play specialists?
- Preparing for surgical procedures. Play specialists help children practise treatments on toys – from blood tests on teddies to drawing pictures of life-saving kidney operations – so that they feel more comfortable with their upcoming procedures.
- Supporting the whole family. Play specialists ensure that they mark special occasions, such as birthdays, with celebrations on the wards so that children have a more normal experience in hospital.
- Speeding up recovery. Research shows that play can help reduce the need for general anaesthetic in some cases, improving recovery for children.
Ten-year-old Myla has been coming to GOSH with her mum, Michaela, since December 2013. In that time, they’ve both developed close relationships with Lynsey, a play specialist on Eagle Ward, where children with complex renal conditions are treated.
Lynsey is one of 34 full-time members of the play team. It’s her job to help seriously ill children at the hospital come to terms with their illness through play.
“Myla has a very positive relationship with GOSH, and that’s because of her play specialist, Lynsey,” says Michaela.
“Coming to Great Ormond Street Hospital was a big shock. I didn’t realise what was happening at the time – Myla was going through a lot of trauma, and she was in a lot of pain. She couldn’t understand what was happening, and neither did I, so I couldn’t explain it to her.
“Then, Lynsey stepped in.”
“I knew that Lynsey’s title was ‘play specialist’, and I thought, ‘Okay, she’s come here to play’. But she did so much more than that. She took Myla through each stage of her illness and they started documenting it together in a journal.
“They would pretend to do injections, cannulas and blood tests on teddy bears so that Myla could understand what was happening to her. They discussed the implications of her kidney failure and what would happen once she began dialysis.
“Lynsey would take Myla to visit other children on the ward who were having similar treatments, which helped her to come to terms with needing a machine to support her until she was able to have a transplant. This also helped her to make friends, so that she felt more comfortable with being in hospital.
“Lynsey helped Myla to prepare for her surgery using role play, drawing and colouring in pictures of kidneys, and even naming her new one – it’s called Martin, after her surgeon! Using these techniques helped Myla adapt and understand what was happening to her.
“In the summer just after her transplant, Myla couldn’t go out much because she was still unwell and recovering. But Lynsey made sure she didn’t miss out. They played, baked and did all the other things Myla would normally do if we were at home.
“I can’t imagine having gone through this experience without Lynsey. That kind of support was crucial.”
Find out more about how uni-ball and our customers are helping children like Myla through the power of play.