Cancer treatment can be scary for children. Needles, buzzing machines, and being surrounded by strangers in unfamiliar places all add to their anxiety about treatment.
Play specialists help children cope with their fears and prepare for treatment through play, using toys, books, games, props and craft materials. They build a relationship with each child, so he or she learns to trust them.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ – play specialists base their work activities around how the child is feeling. They can often help even young children manage minor procedures (like lying still for radiotherapy) without having to have a general anaesthetic.
Despite the name, a play specialist does a lot more than play! Their support helps children:
- Express their thoughts and feelings in a constructive way
- Prepare for procedures and feel less anxious
- Develop coping skills and build self-esteem
- Debrief after traumatic events and hospital procedures