What’s new: Health play specialist

As a health play specialist, you’ll provide therapeutic play for sick children, young people, carers and families of all ages, to help them understand their medical condition, treatment and its impact on their daily life.

Each month, we’ll highlight a new apprenticeship on offer and dive into why it could be the top choice for you. Today, we enter the healthcare industry and look at the health play specialist level 5 apprenticeship.

As a health play specialist, you’ll work within a healthcare environment to facilitate access to play in an appropriate and safe environment where developmental norms and goals can be achieved and maintained for each child you work with.

Play strategies will be formed to support the understanding of the child’s medical conditions and treatments, and to adopt lifestyle changes that are required to manage any long-term conditions.

Using play techniques you have learnt, you’ll help prepare children for their medical, surgical and invasive interventions and procedures.

All communication with the children will be through play and can be verbal, written, non-verbal or technology assisted. You’ll need a non-judgemental approach as you assess, observe, play, evaluate and report the relationships you observe for the safeguarding process, and may be required to provide evidence in the family court.

You could find yourself working in a hospital, within the community or in a hospice, employed within the NHS, the private or voluntary sector. You’ll work alongside other professionals, speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, doctors and nurses, especially when a life-limiting diagnosis is made. Working hours may vary and you may have to work over weekends and public holidays.

An essential requirement of this role is professional annual re-registration with the Health Care Play Specialist Education Trust (HPSET), demonstrating continuous professional development, practising within the scope of the Professional Code of Conduct and Professional Occupational Standards.

Typical job titles can include registered hospital play specialist, registered community play specialist, play leader, therapeutic coordinator and youth support coordinator.

Core duties include:

  • Carry out assessments and observations.
  • Organising daily play and art activities in the playroom or at the bedside.
  • Providing play to achieve developmental goals.
  • Helping children deal with the fear and insecurities of being away from their family.
  • Using play to prepare children for hospital procedures such as injections or operations.
  • Helping children cope with pain.
  • Helping children regain skills lost through the effects of illness.
  • Supporting families.
  • Contributing to clinical judgements through their observations of the child, including taking notes and writing reports for other professionals.
  • Encouraging children to develop friendships.
  • Advising parents, carers and staff on appropriate play for sick and injured children.
  • Ensure play environment is risk assessed, safe and appropriate
  • Responsible for budgets, including resources and staff
  • Provide safe therapeutic and healing environment for babies, infants, children, young people and families



Health play specialist in brief

Duration: 24 months

Relevant school subjects: Science

Entry requirements: Depend on employer, but likely A-levels or equivalent qualifications or relevant experience, Level 3 childcare or other health related qualification.

Achievement upon completion: Level 5 (Higher) – equivalent to a foundation degree

Potential salary upon completion: £20,000

Find out more: https://apprenticeshipguide.co.uk/health-play-specialist/



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