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We welcome Liz Coombs to UCH, our new Roald Dahl Play Specialist

We welcome Liz Coombs to UCH, our new Roald Dahl Play Specialist

We are thrilled to announce that Liz Coombs started her role as the Roald Dahl Play Specialist on Monday 24th April. Funded by Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity (RDMCC), Liz will work in the Paediatric Outpatients Team at University College Hospital.

The Paediatric Outpatients Department at UCH is one of the UK's busiest units, receiving referrals from the local area as well as from across the country. Play specialists at the department work with long term sick children with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, juvenile arthritis, sickle cell disease, diabetes and gastroenterology conditions. Liz Coombs will be working with patients with rare, complex and chronic conditions and will prepare new resources to improve the level of support we are able to give these children. She will also participate in teaching at the hospital and in the community about the importance of play therapy.

Sophie Dziwinski, Senior Programme Manager at RDMCC, told us "This will be the very first Roald Dahl Play Specialist post in the country and we are very proud that the creation of this important post comes in Roald Dahl's centenary year and the 25th anniversary of the children's charity. We believe that every child has the right to a marvellous life no matter how ill they are, and thus to be able to help reduce the anxieties around the child's illness and treatment through play is hugely important. The role of a play specialist is vital as part of a team approach to supporting seriously ill children."

Liz will be working with the families of patients to teach parents how to use play therapy to support healthcare needed at home. This is especially important for children with complex, long-term conditions whose treatment can be lengthy, complicated and sometimes painful. Irene O'Donnell, Play Services Manager, UCLH said "We are incredibly grateful that RDMCC has agreed to fund Liz's post here at UCH. Play and recreation is a crucial part of the care offered to children and young people in hospital. We know that good quality play and recreation opportunities can enhance mental health which is recognised as having an impact on children and young people's psychological and physical health. The role of the play specialist is to use play as a tool to reduce the anxiety surrounding hospitals and treatments, empowering our young patients to build resilience when facing the challenges of living with a chronic or lifelong condition."

Everyone at UCL Hospitals Charitable Foundation and the Paediatric Outpatients Department are extremely grateful to Roald Dahl's Marvellous Children's Charity for this fantastic opportunity and wish Liz the very best in her new role.