New sponsor sought for play packs for child patients

Wednesday March 28, 2012

‚ÄčThe Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB)'s Child Health Division is seeking a new sponsor for Play with a Purpose packs.

Anne Morgan, Child Health Service Manager, says the packs cost around $5 each to produce and contain a few small toys to provide a distraction for children, admitted to the Children's Acute Assessment Unit (CAAU), when they undergo tests and procedures.

Items vary depending on age but can include bubble mixture, a squeezy ball, stickers or a book. An information card explaining to parents/caregivers how to distract the child using the toys is also part of the pack.

"The staff in CAAU love being able to give the play packs to the children they care for and the pack helps make the experience much more positive for everybody," Anne says.

"The play packs are a necessary part of reducing children's anxiety while they undergo treatment but new sponsorship of $10,000 a year is needed to continue producing them. We are happy to put the sponsor's logo on the bags."

The Play with a Purpose packs were introduced in 2008 after a successful pilot programme and a win at the CDHB Quality, Improvement and Innovation Awards. The pilot was introduced by hospital play specialists and CAAU nurses who had researched a similar programme in the United States to help families cope with hospitalisation.

Results of the pilot showed they benefit children, parents/caregivers, whanau and staff.

"Children's anxiety, frustration and discomfort was managed better and because they are less stressed, medical examinations and treatments are easier for everybody," Anne says.

There is also less risk of spread of infection because the toys were kept by the child. It was also discovered that because parents/caregivers and whanau were more relaxed, they talked more to staff and gave a more accurate picture of the child's history.

Comments from parents include:

"They're a great idea. My son actually asks for his pack before we even get to the room each time he's admitted"

"It made him feel special, and it provided a basis for staff to start chatting and developing rapport with him. Thank you."

Page last reviewed: 24 July 2013