What is your current role?
I’m the play service manager for the children’s services at Royal Brompton Hospital.
What made you interested in working as a play specialist?
My godson was born with a rare syndrome and spent a year at Great Ormond Street Hospital. I saw first-hand the work that play specialists do and instantly knew it was something I could be part of and wanted to do.
Could you describe your career journey?
I've been a qualified health play specialist for 24 years! I spent the first 5 years in children’s outpatients at Queen Mary’s Hospital and then have spent the last 18 years as a play specialist and the play service manager at Royal Brompton Hospital.
Why is play so important for our patients and their families?
We have an ethos within the play team at Royal Brompton Hospital that although hospitalisation can be a massive part of a child and their family’s life, it can also be a positive experience and create many happy memories.
Access to ‘play’, at any age, means we're able to provide holistic support and advocate for a child’s needs. Play builds trust, rapport, engagement, understanding, acceptance and co-operation...I could go on!
What do you find rewarding about your work?
As a play specialist, I find building relationships with our families the most rewarding. Being able to advocate for and support children and young people throughout their hospital journey is incredible.
I feel lucky that I've been at Royal Brompton Hospital long enough to watch a lot of our children transition to the adult team. It is a wonderful moment when they come back and talk to me about all the lovely memories they have of our children’s services.
As the play service manager, I love being able to advocate and support my team to be the best they can be. My job is making sure they have everything they need to do their job. And I love helping them to develop and learn. I strongly believe that, as a leader, you should surround yourself with people who are enthusiastic, engaging, positive, innovative and strive to help develop the best service.
What toys, activities and tools do you like using as part of your work?
This is a huge question! What I would say is that we're constantly developing and looking for new and innovative ideas. For example, we've developed our own sensory packs for our long-term babies. I love that we can engage them and give the parents opportunities to access play.
I am also a bit of an expert in making slime right now and that appeals to all ages.
What is your proudest moment?
My team make me proud every day. The work they do and the respect they have earned at Royal Brompton Hospital is incredible.
How do you relax?
I'm a single mum, so time with my daughter is my favourite thing. We love going to the theatre and exhibitions. We also both love being close to the sea.
Do you have any advice for young people considering a career similar to your own?
I would say: be yourself. We all bring different things to this job and that’s the joy of working in a team. I would also say that you'll be valued. Your role is essential. Have confidence in what you do and show members of the multidisciplinary how incredible you are.
Tell us one fun fact about your job
No day is the same. I can go from making slime, to a multi-disciplinary team meeting, to supporting a PICC line insertion, to a budget meeting and chairing an interview panel all in one day. I love the variety and the challenge.
Thank you to the children and young people who have so brilliantly illustrated our blog pages.