Hospital play specialist
Health play specialists understand child development and use therapeutic play activities to help children cope when in hospital.
Salary Range: £21,089 to £30,112
You can get into this job through:
- a university course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
You’ll need a foundation degree in a healthcare play specialism to register with the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust. This is a 2-year, part-time course. To get onto the course, you usually need:
- a childcare qualification at level 3 or above
- GCSEs or equivalent in English and maths
- at least 2 years’ experience of working with children – paid or voluntary
Courses are a mix of practical work and theory. If you’re not already working in healthcare play, you need to arrange a placement during the course.
- equivalent entry requirements
- student finance for fees and living costs
- university courses and entry requirements
You may be able to do a health play specialist higher apprenticeship.
You will need some experience of working with children in a childcare or healthcare setting.
There may be opportunities with the NHS, as well as independent and private providers of healthcare services. You can find vacancies through NHS Jobs and the National Association of Health Play Specialists.
You’ll usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
You could start as a play assistant with a relevant childcare qualification at level 3 and work your way up by training on the job.
Volunteering and experience
You can do volunteering in a healthcare setting.
Many health play specialists have a background in nursery work. You could also do this job with experience and qualifications in related areas, like community play, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, teaching, art, drama or music therapy.
Skills and knowledge
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- knowledge of psychology
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- sensitivity and understanding
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be flexible and open to change
- the ability to understand people’s reactions
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
You will need to find an experienced and qualified Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust (HPSET) Registered Health Play Specialist who is willing to mentor and assess you in the workplace. When you have successfully completed both the work-based and academic requirements you will be eligible to register with HPSET. Registration is voluntary but recommended.
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- carrying out therapeutic assessments
- designing play activities to meet children’s individual needs
- planning and running play, art and craft activities at the bedside, on the ward or in a hospital play area
- creating an environment that encourages play
- talking to parents or carers about the value of play and suggesting suitable activities
- organising parties and other special events
You could work in an NHS or private hospital.
You may need to wear a uniform.
You could go on to work outside of a hospital setting, for example in a child development centre, hospice, or within a community paediatric team.
With experience, you could progress to team leader or team manager.
You could also apply to train as a healthcare professional, like a nurse or occupational therapist.