Health play staff

Health play staff lead play activities with children and young people who are in hospital or attending a hospital or clinic.

This page has information on the role of a health play staff in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed. 

Working life

As a member of health/healthcare play staff, you'll use play as a therapeutic tool to help children understand their illness and treatment.

family with health play staff

You could work as a play assistant or a health play specialist (previously known as a hospital play specialist)

Depending on your role and level of responsibility, you would

Where would I work?

Most health play staff work in hospitals, either in outpatient or inpatient departments. Some work in hospices and other community-based settings. Some health play specialists work with children in their homes.

Entry requirements 

You could enter a role as a play assistant with a relevant childcare qualification at level 3.  Experience of working with children will be an advantage.

Most employers expect health play specialists to be registered with the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust. To register, you need a foundation degree in healthcare play specialism. This is a two-year part-time course. To get onto the course, you usually need

Courses are a mix of practical work and theory. If you are not already working in healthcare play, you need to arrange a placement during the course.

Personal characteristics and skills needed 

Health play specialists need to be

You'll also need

Training and development

Play specialists who are registered with the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Play specialists can join the National Association of Health Play Specialists. The Association runs conferences and training events so members can keep their skills up to date and network with others in the same field.

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