Play specialists

Play is one of the most important needs a child has.
Hospital Play Specialists

Anita Hiko, 8 years old from Hamilton with play specialist Serena Rogers

It is one of the ways children learn and it also helps children cope with upsetting things that happen in their lives. Being in hospital or receiving treatment at hospital can be a difficult experience for children.

Registered hospital play specialists provide a play and recreation programme that help children and young people to

  • understand why they are in hospital and what will happen
  • cope with illness, with being in hospital and with their treatment
  • regain confidence, independence and self-esteem.

Play specialists are part of Waikato Hospital’s Paediatric service, and also come under the umbrella of Waikids which is the brand that integrates all child and youth health services provided by Waikato District Health Board, whether they are hospital or community based.

Hospital Play Specialists poster


Hospital play specialists collaborate with families and other health care professionals to

  • prepare children for medical procedures and treatment to help reduce anxiety and enhance understanding
  • introduce coping strategies, to allow children to develop their own individual means of coping
  • provide support and distraction during medical procedures
  • offer developmentally appropriate opportunities for play and expressive activities both at ward bedside and in the Waikids Playroom
  • Promote family-centered care by providing information, advocacy and support to families
  • Provide education for child, siblings and family.

The Waikids Playroom (which is a Ministry of Education Licensed Early Childhood Centre) provides a safe, fun, supportive and social environment where children and families can experience developmentally appropriate activities and play.  The programme is supported by hospital volunteers.

The play specialist services at Waikato Hospital started with a kindergarten established on a paediatric ward in 1989. Our present team has four NZ registered play specialists on board.


Elizabeth Rothwell Building, Waikato Hospital, Waiora Waikato Hospital Campus, Pembroke Street, Hamilton

  • The Waikids Playroom, Level 3, Elizabeth Rothwell Building
  • The Play Specialists’ team base, Level B3, Elizabeth Rothwell Building

Contact information

Waikato Hospital Operator (07) 839 8899 and ask for extension 96747

Referral information

Referrals come from the hospital ward staff, Waikids Day Stay Unit, Waikids Clinics and district nurses.

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