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Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) celebrates inaugural International Day of Play

Tuesday, 11th June 2024: Today, CHI is marking the inaugural International Day of Play with children and their families across its four locations at Crumlin, Temple Street, Tallaght and Connolly.

June 11, 2024

All CHI locations


Recognised by the United Nations, the Day is designed to help ensure every child’s right to play is respected, protected and fulfilled. Play is not just important, it is a fundamental right of children, encouraging them to learn life skills, promote psychosocial well-being, build resilience, and confidence and help development.

Children’s Health Ireland has long seen the benefits of play as part of a holistic recouperation and recovery journey.

Carolyn Parse, CHI’s Acting Professional Lead for Healthcare Play said: “For the children we care for, play is very important. As well as helping to distract and ease worried minds, play also has an important role in helping younger patients become familiar with their surroundings, treatments and recovery plans. Play is healing and is very much part of a holistic healthcare journey.

“We very much welcome the United Nations’ endorsement of this Day and hope there will be investment into diverse, inclusive and safe play spaces, extending access to all, especially the most vulnerable and marginalised children”, she added.

Play, in all its forms will be central in the new children’s hospital, including:

  • The Play Department, including outdoor play area
  • In nearly all of the wards, there are playrooms or play areas. Health play specialists and play assistants will work with inpatients in these areas.
  • Health play specialists will also work with patients in their room if they are not well enough to leave it
  • There are playgrounds and play areas in the four acres of gardens around the new children’s hospital.

CHI’s specialised Play Department has a team of 33 Play Specialists and Assistants facilitating numerous types of play including:

  • Normalising Play: provided to children to give much needed breaks from medical procedures and gives structure to their day
  • Therapeutic Play: purposeful play lead by the Play Department that gives patients an opportunity to explore their hospital experiences, express themselves, and involve all their senses
  • Preparation: facilitated by the Play Department to enhance coping and a sense of mastery over new experiences. Preparation involves familiarisation of medical equipment and the hospital environment, understanding the sequence of events and sensory experiences. It allows patients to plan for and rehearse their chosen coping strategies ahead of the medical experience, so that they are more likely to feel successful and empowered
  • Procedural Support and Distraction: patients work with the Play Department to create a personalised coping plan during potentially painful or frightening procedures. Some distraction methods include bubbles or toys with interesting lights, sounds, or textures
  • Post Procedural Play: helps children relieve stress and express themselves in a safe space after a challenging healthcare experience. Child-led, it may include role-play or art with medical equipment, or it may be completely unrelated to their medical experiences.

CHI is hosting special International Day of Play events across its four sites. These include information sessions for patients’ parents and opportunities to play and celebrate for inpatients and outpatients.

We would also like to extend our gratitude to the Children's Health Foundation and their supporters nationwide for their ongoing support of the play departments in CHI each year.

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