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The play team on the critical care unit

The play team are here because the hospital is an unusual environment for a child. Play helps children cope with it.

Our role is much more than play, however it is our main tool. We use therapeutic play to help prepare, support and relax children and young people during their hospital stay.

You can easily recognise us by our jade green tops:

Photograph of staff member Donna wearing Play team uniform Photograph of staff member Helen wearing Play team uniform
Play team member Donna Play team member Helen

How do we play on Intensive Care?

On Intensive Care we:

  • choose activity items suitable for your child’s current abilities
  • get to know children and support, comfort and reassure them even if they cannot talk to us
  • provide toys, music, tech and sensory equipment during their stay as needed
  • encourage children’s development and support their recovery

 What if my child is too unwell to play?

If your child is too unwell to play, instead we can set up music, lights and audiobooks. This way we can comfort and make a more pleasant environment for children who are asleep or sedated.

Our role

  • We work alongside nurses, doctors and other health professionals to make a child’s hospital experience as positive and relaxed as possible
  • Encourage play for all ages and abilities
  • Maintain clean, safe quality toys and equipment
  • Provide distraction therapy during procedures
  • Advocate for children to help them make their needs known
  • Make information child friendly
  • Promote development through play
  • Support families and siblings
  • Help children to build up trust with the hospital team
  • Prepare children for upcoming an tests, procedures and operations
  • Help meet children’s individual needs and preferences
  • Comfort, support and reassure
  • Promote celebration of key celebrations themes and events
  • Support the use of Critical Care diaries

As a parent or carer, please do not be afraid to be silly. Read stories, sings songs,  play games, and get messy. All this helps to make the child’s hospital experience better.

Distraction for procedures

Please let us know and we will be there to support the child before during and after procedures.

Photograph of play items and toy boxPhotograph of teddy bear with respiratory item on neck

Photograph of wooden blocks portraying an X-rayPhotograph of wooden blocks portraying an X-ray

Normalising play

Familiar activities help a child or young person to feel comforted and gives them control.

Play is important

Play is a vital part of a child’s recovery. It creates positive memories and improves well being. It also gives children freedom and control.

Play is the best medicine!

Examples of what we can provide on paediatric critical care unit (PCCU)


Painting, play dough, sticking, colouring, puzzles, board game, Lego, baby toys, bubble tube, lights, playmat, baby gym, Playstation/Xbox, tablets, Toniebox, music, books, pamper sessions, nail varnish, teenage crafts


Bubble tube, lights, projector, space blanket, musical instruments, sensory fabrics, mirrors, music, fidget toys, tactile balls, bubbles, sensory stories

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

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Western Bank
S10 2TH

United Kingdom

Switchboard: 0114 271 7000

Interesting Facts

We’ve got a special MRI scanner just for teddies so children can see what it’s like before they have a scan.

Help to transform our extraordinary hospital into something even better.


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