A day as a hospital/health play specialist

You're based at your local NHS hospital children's ward and your shift begins at 7.30am. Your first task of the day will be to set the playroom up with toys and activities for any child who is able to visit the playroom. It is important for this room to be inviting as it will encourage children and parents to get to know others on the ward and be comfortable in their surroundings. Children may be anxious if it is their first time in hospital and you will use play to encourage them to join in with the activities and discuss what they know about hospitals and why they are there. Some children undergo painful and invasive procedures which they may find hard to cope with: you will prepare the child for this by using play to help them understand what is happening to them. You will organise play for babies, children or teenagers who have to stay in their own room. During the day you meet members of the team including nurses, doctors, dietitians and physiotherapists who may want to discuss the treatment and care of the patients and how your play activities have been incorporated into the care plan. You will write down the observations that you made of your patients as they played and talked as well as planning tomorrow's activities before finishing your shift.

Does this sound like you?

You communicate well with children and young people, have a great imagination and can see the world from a child's point of view. You're also comfortable communicating with adults and can explain things clearly in person and in writing. You're patient, understanding and non-judgemental.

What's next after GCSE?

You will need five GCSEs at grade 4 (C) and above especially in maths and English, to demonstrate literacy and numeracy. After leaving school, you should apply for a level 3 childcare course at a further/higher education institution in order to gain experience of working with children.

What's next after A level and beyond?

Instead of A levels, you will usually need a minimum of a level 3 qualification in childcare and relevant work experience in order to get onto the foundation degree in Healthcare Play Specialism. This degree is only offered at a small number of colleges in the UK and you must check with each college on their entry requirements.