North Mid staff win award for helping young patients

Play leaders from the Edmonton’s hospital’s Starlight ward recognised as the ‘Play Team of the Year’

Play leader Keshia and the team from the Starlight ward at North Mid with their award
Play leader Keshia (centre) and the team from the Starlight ward at North Mid with the award

Hospital workers who ensure young patients at North Middlesex Hospital are supported through their treatment have won a national award.

Play leaders Keshia Young, Emma Lambert and Megan Davidson from the Edmonton’s hospital’s Starlight ward were recognised as the ‘Play Team of the Year’ in the Starlight Health Play Awards 2022.

Run by leading health play charity, Starlight, the Health Play Awards recognise the dedication, ingenuity and resilience of play specialists and other health professionals who are changing the experience of hospital treatment for children through the power of play. 

Health play specialists and play leaders work directly with children in hospitals, hospices and other health settings, empowering them to understand more about their treatment, develop coping techniques, distract them during procedures and support their mental health whilst undergoing treatment.

Keshia, Emma and Megan from North Mid were recognised for their work with children and young people both in and out of the hospital. Collette Datt, associate director of nursing of children and young people at the hospital says of the trio: “Through visiting adolescents on the adult wards, they have made sure that the 16–18-year-old children are cared for and supported in a new environment for them.

“They visit about five young people a day across the hospital, ensuring their needs as young people are made in adult environments.

“The team have helped set up and run a children’s and young patients forum for children and their parents in Enfield and Haringey, which has provided the opportunity for them to have a voice and work alongside the paediatric team to make the necessary improvements, through co-production. This has helped improve the care delivered to children in both the paediatric unit and the adult wards.”

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Speaking of their award win, Keshia said: “It’s such a shock! We feel like the underdogs here as we are a small hospital compared to some of the bigger children’s hospitals. Without play, the children in hospital would be a lot more anxious and bored. If they are not calm, it’s much harder to carry out their treatment and they would be quite distressed. Starlight’s resources have made such a difference to us. Like most play teams we don’t have any funding, and we haven’t been able to fundraise because of the pandemic.”

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Cathy Gilman, chief executive of Starlight, said: “It’s people like Claire [another award winner], Keshia and Emma who are our real-life superheroes. They make children’s stays in hospital the best they can be.

“While the creation of the forums and their diversity of activity from both Keshia and Emma at North Middlesex is particularly impressive, they’re all a credit to the profession.”

This week, to mark National Play in Hospital Week, Starlight has released its latest report which illustrates how the pandemic has impacted the level of already inadequate funding for play resources around the country, including in London.

The report finds many healthcare settings are failing to employ any play specialists at all, while others are struggling to fund even the most basic play resources. It also highlights that access to play has significantly reduced since the onset of the pandemic and that there are still many full or partial playroom closures as well as multiple restrictions on group play activities available in UK hospitals.

Starlight is urgently calling for hospitals, hospices, clinics and other healthcare settings to make a bigger priority of children’s play as they emerge from the pandemic, and to reopen playrooms wherever possible. In the longer-term, the charity is calling for healthcare providers and commissioners to better recognise the vital role of children’s play to their wellbeing, resilience and recovery, and to see health play specialists as an integral part of children’s healthcare workforce.

For more information about Starlight and National Play in Hospital Week:

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