Meet the Play Department
Everyone likes playing – whether it's dressing a favourite doll or zapping baddies in a computer game. Doing what you enjoy helps you chill, and when you're relaxed you tend to be less wound up about things that are bugging you.
Coming into hospital can be exciting; but it can be a bit scary too. So you might feel worried about it, but not sure how to talk about the way you're feeling.
Younger kids can find this especially difficult, either because they can't find the right words or they don't actually realise what it is they are feeling. But when they play, their feelings and worries come out without them knowing it. This helps grown-ups understand what a child is anxious about and find ways to make them feel happier.
At the hospital there is a big team of us who are called "play specialists". We are trained to help you play in a way that makes you feel less worried. We also use toys and games to help you understand the ways the doctors are trying to make you better. For example, we have puppets which help us explain what will happen when you come for your operation.
It's not just you who might be a bit spooked by coming into hospital or having an operation. Brothers and sisters, cousins and friends can get worried too. So we're there to support them as well.
It's also a fact that being in hospital can be boring at times. That's why there is a play room on nearly every ward and a really neat Play Centre on the ground floor. There's also an outdoor playground, including a decking area where grown-ups can hang out, which is open 24/7.
The play centre has a multi-sensory area, with lots of amazing lights, and a relaxation area. It also has loads of games, toys and art stuff.
It is big enough for beds, so if you're on traction you can still visit the Play Centre. And, of course, it's wheelchair-friendly.
"Most of the play we do with children takes place in the play centre; otherwise it's on the wards," explains Deb Trowbridge, one of the play specialists. "We have a rota so that the whole team gets a turn at looking after the play centre each week.
"You can come to the play centre from your ward whenever you like, as long as you feel well enough and there is no risk of infection. You also need to have a grown-up with you. Sometimes we have special activity slots and outside entertainers, and we also organise parties and Christmas pantomimes. There's a youth club on Tuesday evenings."