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Distraction a therapy for children at Waikato

L-R Travis-Shane Wright of Hamilton; daughter Deziah-Jayde, 4 years old; Lisa Pearson, play specialist; Cheryl Read, Countdown area champion; Jo Shea-Kelly, charge nurse manager Meade Clinical Centre outpatients.

Play specialists have found a way to make traumatic experiences for children less stressful by creating ‘distraction kits’.

Using $2000 from the Countdown Kids Appeal, staff at Waikato Hospital created boxes of interactive toys to help draw children’s attention away from tests and procedures during their treatment.

Play specialists value distraction toys as they help support children in many clinical situations.

Waikids unit manager Lorraine Reid said the kits are made up of familiar toys that children can identify with.

“Some of the staff had been advocating for the last couple of years to get the kits, and so it is really cool to be able to see that through,” she said.

Meade Clinical Centre charge nurse manager Jo Shea-Kelly has been integral in establishing these kits, promoting the needs of children and to provide positive experiences.

A portion of the money was also used to buy bath toys specifically for paediatric burns patients on the Waikids surgical ward.

As part of their treatment children with burns may use a special hydraulic bath. Having a range of bath toys that provide a sense of familiarity and calm can be important during this time. The bath toys provide a valuable opportunity to encourage mobilising and stretching exercises through play, a big part of their treatment and rehabilitation.

There will be another two distraction kits created to use on the Waikids surgical and medical wards.

Play specialists will train other clinic staff on ways they can best support children through procedures.

The play specialist team felt it was a perfect opportunity to present the distraction kits to celebrate the end of Play Specialist Awareness Week, which this year’s focused on celebrating play in hospital.

Play specialists work alongside members of the healthcare team, providing developmental activities, prepare children for medical and surgical procedures, helping children express feelings and develop coping strategies to manage procedures and treatments. Play is developmentally essential, it facilitates learning, understanding and coping.

Play specialists use developmentally selected toys and tools to help provide distraction, support and help guide children through medical procedures. distraction kits are socked with a variety of interactive, sensory items to help ease anxiety, actively engage attention, aid co-operation and help provide normalcy through play.

Waikids is the brand that integrates all child and youth health services provided by Waikato District Health Board, whether they are provided in hospital, clinics, in the community or in people’s homes.

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