Bedford Hospital marks 50 years of child’s play

Bedford Hospital has been celebrating 50 years of play in hospitals

Sunday, 20th October 2013, 7:00 pm
Brenda Robinson with Jonah Rogers,13.

The first Save the Children Fund (SCF) Hospital Play Scheme arrived in 1963 - this followed the publication of the Platt Report, a landmark study of the care of children in hospital.

This week The National Association for Hospital Play Specialists celebrates National Play In Hospital Week.

Bedford Hospital is marking both events with a display in Riverbank Ward covering the decades of children’s healthcare at Bedford.

The Ministry of Health Report Welfare of Children in Hospital was known as the ‘Platt Report’ after the chair of its committee, Sir Harry Platt, who was also President of the Royal College of Surgeons.

At the time many hospitals did not even allow parents to visit their children on a daily basis - the Platt Report ushered in a new era, introducing play to hospitals, as well as toys, and longer visiting hours.

Today Bedford Hospital employs Brenda Robinson, its first registered play specialist to have a foundation degree in Healthcare And Play Specialism.

And after supporting Brenda throughout her qualification with the University of West London, the Trust is continuing to support her for a third year, in which she will earn a BA (Hons) in Integrated Services For Children.

Brenda said: “We have come a long way since the Platt Report. Hospitals now have professional people who play with children and help them through their treatment.

“Every day is different in this job, but I absolutely love it. I’ll come in at the beginning of the day, get the play room in good order, and then I’ll do my round on the ward and see every single child and their family.”

She added: “We provide an activity programme for children that looks at all their developmental needs. We do activities such as painting, drawing, or designing t-shirts or jewellery boxes. And we provide art and craft activities, and lots of messy play, so that children can work out and express their feelings through different media.

“There’s a chill-out room which is very popular with the older children – I helped to refurbish it and we encourage the children to socialize with events like DVD sessions. And then we do other things like make-up sessions for teenage girls.”