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Manchester Foundation
Trust Charity


Play Services

Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Play Services

Susan Fairclough in play leader uniform sits in colourful playroom

Play services inspire fun, curiosity and interaction for all young patients, as well as providing vital support for young patients in difficult moments. Over the years, we have been able to support the provision of these essential services for young patients across our family of hospitals.

Our Play Team works with inpatients on the wards, bringing tailored play to bedsides with things like Xbox gaming carts and with referrals – children who are due to come into hospital and might have some anxiety around it.

Play not only relieves boredom and creates normality for young patients, but it is also crucial for continued development. Through the Charity-funded music therapy project, Magic Makers, rooftop play and sensory areas, our Play Specialists ensure that young people in hospital have access to outside play, multisensory provision, and music.

Further to that, specialised play prepares young patients for their procedures and treatment, in turn supporting their families and the doctors and nurses looking after them.

Susan Fairclough is responsible for managing all the Health Play Specialists, Play Leaders and the Youth Service. She recalled,

“There was a young patient who was undergoing treatment for cancer, and they have these lines that they put in called Hickman lines, where they have a lot of treatment through. Although she had some preparation for that and knew why that was there, she was still a very young child and actually needed some extra support.”

After the Hickman line had been placed, the patient became very stiff and wouldn’t move. The Physiotherapist thought it was a psychological issue and that the child was scared to move. Liaising with the Physiotherapist and the team on the ward, the play specialist jumped into action.

“We decided to get a big piece of paper. It was coming up to Bonfire Night so we got all the nice colours of fireworks and things like that and asked her if she would help us do a wall display for a room. Straight away, she was off her bed, paint brushes into the pots, arms are going up everywhere painting this great big picture for Bonfire Night. But when she just relaxed, she realised that it was okay to move.”

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