Deborah Edgington - Play specialist 

Deborah Edgington is a senior play specialist at University College Hospital. Here she tells us about the job she loves.

My day starts at…

5.30am and I set off by 6.30am. I have a quick bowl of cereal because I don’t know when I’m going to get the chance to eat again. I don’t have a job where I can potter around while my computer warms up - I could be faced by an extremely upset child from the moment I walk onto the ward.

My job involves…

Helping children and young people up to the age of 18 through surgery. I use everything from bubbles to iPads to put them at ease - and even go down to theatre with them. Supporting parents is a big part of my job too - some of them will never have left their child before.

How I became a play specialist…

I was doing a degree in early childhood studies when a play specialist came in to talk to us and I realised that this was something I could do with a passion. I did four years as a general play specialist at another hospital. UCLH is one of the few places to have play specialists just dedicated to theatres and when a job came up in 2012, I jumped at the chance.

On a typical day I…

Start work at 7.30am when the first patients arrive. I play with them at their bedside and use a photo book and teddy bear with everything from a name band to a tube for the anaesthetic to talk them through their operation. Then, I go with them to theatre and use bubbles, breathing exercises and games such as Where’s Wally to distract them while they are having their anaesthetic. On a typical day, I support up to 10 children and their families.

The best thing about my job is…

Every day is so different – that’s the joy of it. I don’t dread Monday mornings – I actually look forward to coming into work!