May the force be with you... 

10/10/2017 00:00 
More than 30 intergalactic warriors took University College Hospital by storm yesterday in a spectacular event to launch National Play in Hospital Week.
 

The Imperial Outlanders Stormtroopers caused quite a stir when they arrived en masse at the Euston Road hospital.

They visited several wards to meet our young patients and pose for photos and were later joined by Britain’s Got Talent finalists Boogie Storm for a dance display in the main atrium.

UCLH deputy play services manager Jenny Oliver, who helped to organise the event, said: “It was great fun. As well as brightening up the day for our young patients, visitors and staff, it has helped get across a serious message: play can help children feel less anxious and more empowered during their stay in hospital.”

The UCLH Play Services team provide distraction therapies, specialised play interventions and a bright, cheery environment to help support children and young people during their time at UCLH.

The annual event is organised by the National Association of Health Play Specialists (NAHPS) to raise awareness of the role of the health play specialist and the importance of play and recreation in a healthcare setting. It is supported by Starlight Children’s Foundation, a national charity that brightens the lives of seriously ill children, and kicks off a week of fun and entertainment in hospitals and community healthcare settings across the UK.

UCLH play and youth services manager Irene O’Donnell, who also sits on the NAHPS committee, said: “We know that play and recreation can be a really powerful tool in healthcare to help children and young people cope with their treatment.

“For example we very successfully support children as young as three years of age to have an MRI scan without the need for general anaesthetic or sedation. This means that the procedure becomes safer and quicker, but also helps children with long term health conditions build resilience in coping and so make them more likely to engage positively with their treatment.”

Also at UCLH today were the creators of Hetty’s Hospital, a free app designed for children aged between four and eight years which aims to reduce healthcare related anxiety. Created by two paediatricians working in the NHS and partly supported by UCLH Charity, Hetty's Hospital targets the aspects of healthcare that can provoke anxiety in children. Hetty and her friends explore a wide range of hospital environments and teach children about what may happen to them should they be poorly.

Celebrations to mark Play in Hospital week will be taking place at UCLH for the rest of the week. Yesterday's event was covered by ITV London News on TV and on its Facebook page.

 A selection of photos from the event


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