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Kidz First Play Specialists

Public Service, Allied Health, Paediatrics


Who Are We?
The play specialist role is important in making a positive difference to tamariki, rangatahi and their whaanau by helping them manage the stress and anxiety of a hospital admission and journey. We know that play is a universal language that is understood in all cultures and is fun, child-focused, and therapeutic. It helps in developing a child's sense of belonging and wellbeing during their healthcare experience. Play is used and advocated for by the play specialists as the primary method in helping to maintain normal development, reduce emotional distress, improve understanding about illness and hospitalisation, and increase tamariki, rangatahi and whaanau ability to cope effectively with a potentially stressful situation. The uniqueness of our role enables us to provide opportunities to build and maintain therapeutic and collaborative relationships with tamariki, rangatahi and whaanau in a non-threatening and supportive manner. Play Specialists advocate for family-centred care by working alongside whaanau and advocating for their individual needs.

How Do We Help?
We know that when tamariki and rangatahi come to hospital, they encounter many experiences that can represent a threat to their continued development and their psychological wellbeing. We strive to reduce the impact of hospitalisation and medical or surgical treatments by easing fears and anxiety. Getting to know and engaging with each whaanau is an important part of our role. We establish collaborative relationships with whaanau and work together to explore a child's previous experiences and understanding of their hospital admission. With this information we can provide play, education, and recreation resources and help to establish coping strategies that meet a child's specific needs. We use a range of resources to prepare tamariki and rangatahi for surgeries, procedures, and tests such as MRI, CT, x-ray, and PICC lines. These resources give children an opportunity to explore, experiment, practice, ask questions, and correct misconceptions. The preparation sessions assist children to learn about the procedure including sensory information, timing, sequencing, and coping techniques, and is an individualised process for each child and family. Additionally we support tamariki, rangatahi and whaanau through medical interventions such as blood tests, IV leur insertions and dressing changes to enable them to better cope with a stressful situation. 

Where Will You See Us?
Kidz First Play Specialists support children, young people and their whaanau in our inpatient wards, Kidz First Medical Care and Kidz First Surgical Care; Neonatal unit; MRI; Kidz First Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit/National Burns Centre via referral.

Want To Find Out More?
For more information on play specialists and advice on supporting children and young people in hospital, please see the attached documents at the bottom of the page.

Referral Expectations

This is an inpatient service.  We do not routinely accept outside referrals.

If you have concerns and would like to talk to a play specialist before your child is admitted to hospital, please contact us.

Fees and Charges Description

Our service is free of charge for children admitted into Kidz First.

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Contact Details

100 Hospital Rd

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Street Address

100 Hospital Rd

Postal Address

Play Specialist Service
Kidz First Children's Hospital
Private Bag 93311
Auckland 1640

This page was last updated at 11:15AM on July 8, 2024. This information is reviewed and edited by Kidz First Play Specialists.