"I was really impressed with the play worker at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital"
About: Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Royal Manchester Children's Hospital Manchester M27 4HA
Posted by amyjayne (as ),
I recently had the opportunity to spend time in the Royal Manchester Children's Hospital outpatients department. I was glad to have the time to sit and watch people come and go and get a feel for what the hospital was like.
I noticed that a playworker took a seat in the corner of the huge waiting area and very quietly and calmly began setting up a variety of activities for the children. He had a drawer cabinet with him filled with drawing paper, crayons, dot-to-dots etc. A few children made their way over to him, and I watched as he talked to them not in a silly, 'childrens tv presenter' way but just politely and happily, and with respect. He was calm, discrete, approachable and warm.
One little girl in particular clearly loved to be in his company, and when I spoke to her later she mentioned to me that she sits with him every time he's here and that he is lovely and helps to distract her from a long wait.
I was really taken by this guy. It was so obvious to me, watching and experiencing the hustle and bustle of the department, that he was so vitally necessary. I fear that in a climate of budget cuts and job losses that a role like this would be first in line to go, but I think this would be a huge shame.
Many of the children at the hospital are frightened, some are very timid and many are attending the hospital for very serious and life-long conditions. They often don't know how long they're going to have to wait, and most must sit there worried for a good hour or more, especially the slightly older children who understand more about what is happening to them and the severity of their problems.
I think this playworker, and any in other hospitals, are so important. They have much more of an impact than I think people realise. They allow children to relax, and be distracted from the worry of what is happening to them. This particular guy was so well suited to the work too, he knew exactly how to communicate appropriately with the children. He is a very calming and positive influence, which I think is perfect.
I hope that when hospital senior management teams across the country evaluate their spending, and face the very difficult task of culling staff, they consider the importance of these non-medical roles, who have an immeasurable impact on children and their parents.