Young patients and staff at the Isle of Wight NHS Trust celebrated National Play in Hospital week, which ran from 7th-12th October.
Spiderman, Pudsey Bear, a magician and face painter all attended the Children’s ward Tea Party on Friday 11th October to celebrate their new recently refurbished play room and to also celebrate the 40 years of dedication from ‘Grandma Gilbey’.
Mrs Martha Gilbey is a much loved and valued contributor to play on the children’s ward, bringing art and craft materials and toys, as well as emergency clothes for patients in need.
In recognition and appreciation of all that she does she was made the Children’s Ward’s Honorary Grandma several years ago and this year she celebrates an amazing 40 years of supporting children’s wards – initially on the mainland but mostly here on the Island at St Mary’s Hospital.
Play Specialist Dionne Davies said:
“I don’t know what we would do without Grandma Gilbey! She seems to have a sixth sense and knows when we are running out of something! Hama beads and play dough are top of her list – and the children’s too! It’s like Christmas morning when she arrives on the ward with her big sacks of goodies for the children!
“We have so much to thank Grandma Gilbey for we wouldn’t be able to guess how many children have benefited from her kindness and generosity but it’s a lot! She’s the fuel that keeps the playroom running!”
Mrs Gilbey says:
“When my grandson was in hospitals, one of the Sisters had a ‘wish list’ outside her office of things they needed; I didn’t need an invitation to start helping and I’ve done the same here at St Mary’s ever since.
“I’ve done it for so long now it’s just a part of life now but when you see the little faces is when you know it’s all worthwhile”
National Play in Hospital week, organised by the National Association of Health Play Specialists (NAPHS) and supported by Starlight’s Children’s Foundation, was set up in 2010 to raise awareness of the positive impact of play in a hospital setting.
With nearly 49,000 children and young people in the UK living with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, the need for play and entertainment services for children in hospitals has never been greater. Research has highlighted the importance of play in hospital, both in preparing children for treatment and providing ways for them to work through their anxieties and fears and deal with their experiences.
“Play has the power to normalise the hospital experience for children. Play can be familiar, reassuring and normal in an “un-normal” situation. Young children have a great ability to block out what they don’t want to hear or see and zone in on what they find interesting and fun – and we can use that natural distraction technique with the help of books and toys when a child is having a painful or scary procedure. As well as making the environment child friendly and less clinical.
“Having fun activities to engage in whilst poorly can change the way a child or young person views their experience on the ward. It can literally change a negative into a positive and help lift their spirits and on to the road to recovery!
“A couple of weeks ago a little boy was upset at going home and he said it was because he was having a lovely time at the children’s hotel! That made my day! If children can focus on the good things and have support preparing them for the not so good things – it helps them cope so much better with their hospital admission.”