Text Resize

-A +A

Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity Play Specialist Update

Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity Play Specialist Update

We were delighted to catch up with Liz Coombs, Roald Dahl Play Specialist, for an update on her work in the Paediatric Outpatients Department. 

The Paediatric Outpatients Department at UCLH is one of the UK’s busiest units and receives referrals from London and the South East as well as from across the country. The main focus of the Play Specialist role is to support children, young people and their families throughout their hospital journey. For many young people time spent in a hospital can be very traumatic and the services of a trained and dedicated specialist can transform their experience. 

Liz provides one-to-one support for patients, as well as to parents and siblings. A serious diagnosis can have a huge impact not only on the patient but on the family as a whole and Liz works closely with the psychology team to tailor support for specific challenges that young people might face, like needle phobia. Following clinics, Liz liaises with parents by phone and offers face to face meetings to address any specific concerns. The number of referrals that Liz receives from clinical staff is continuing to grow. 

Liz covers long-term condition specific clinics that run every week for Haematology, Epilepsy and Diabetes patients. She has developed the support that she provides within these clinics, working closely with nurses and medical teams to manage patients visits and care and supporting young people up to 19 years of age who come for treatment. Liz also works on the general paediatric ward when patients within her specialities are admitted for treatment, for example a sickle cell patient in crisis, or a newly diagnosed diabetic. Chloe Davis, a full time Play Specialist working on the Paediatric ward said, “Having Liz allows more children to have the precious one-to-one therapeutic play they so need – it is brilliant having her around.” 

Liz says, “I feel honoured to be the first Roald Dahl Play Specialist in the country and to have such a varied, exciting and inspiring job. I feel privileged and humbled to work with such amazing children, young people and their families, many of whom experience very difficult times as a result of their chronic illness.” 

The funding of the Play Specialist role by Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity has been a wonderful opportunity for UCLH. Rebecca Martin, Nurse Consultant for the Diabetes Service at UCLH said, “The children and young people’s diabetes service has been very lucky to have the support from Liz Coombs. She has become an indispensable part of our service and routinely makes blood tests more manageable through play, appropriate preparation and distraction from procedure. Crucially, she has been able to join our weekly team meetings and has given very valuable input into discussions about how the team deliver care for individuals living with the demands of diabetes. Every diabetes team should have a Liz!” 

UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity for funding the Roald Dahl Play Specialist Post.