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Waikato play specialists give the best care to our Waikids

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Medical treatment in hospital isn’t fun for anyone, especially children.

This is where the important role of our Waikato DHB’s play specialists step in and deliver care through Waikids Early Childhood Centre. This team delivers the best level of learning and wellbeing to any child who needs treatment in Waikato Hospital and was recently given the highest level of evaluation by the Education Review Office.

Located on the paediatric wards and in the onsite early childhood centre, we have nine specialists and one head teacher working with children who are inpatients (known as Waikids) to help minimise stress in hospital.

"Our hospital play specialists provide such an important role in our Waikids care journey," says Children’s service manager Christine Woolerton.

"Children can be in hospital from anywhere from days to months for a number conditions from fractions, breaks to being treated for cancer or serious respiratory or heart conditions including rheumatic fever.

"Taken out of their home and school environments Waikids need play therapy, time in the play centre or multi-sensory room, and learning and education plans delivered by one of our trained play specialists as part of their treatment plan," states Christine.

There are currently nine play specialists who have early childhood teaching qualifications and additional hospital-based qualifications. The specialists provide development preparation and medication procedural support within the clinical setting of the paediatric wards, activity room and, by referral, in other sites and clinics within the hospital.

The Waikids philosophy is underpinned by the principles of Te Whāriki, and places priority on family and community/whānau tangata, holistic development/kotahitangi, relationships/ngā hononga and empowerment/whakapapa. Education and care values encompass Te Tiriti o Waitangi and promote the use of te reo and tikanga Māori practises. The service operates under the DHB care model of Te Whare Tapa Whā.

In brief summary, the Education Review Office found that the Waikids hospital play specialists:

Are highly effective in promoting positive outcomes for children - with children’s wellbeing at the forefront of all decisions

Develop strong relationships with families and work in partnership with them

Service curriculum is highly responsive to the nature and complexity of hospital-based context

Māori children’s learning and wellbeing needs are met acknowledging language, culture and identity through curriculum experiences

Children’s ongoing education interests and individual plans are personalised for the needs of the child and the wider whānau.

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