a happy young boy playing with colourful toys at a table

Play is important for children and young people, especially in stressful or unfamiliar places like hospitals. Every year we fund new and replacement toys for the Richard Desmond Children’s Eye Centre to help put younger patients at ease.

The challenge

Children and young people are different physically, physiologically and emotionally from adults. Play is reassuring, familiar and helps children make sense of the world around them. 

In the hospital play areas young children enter their play-world surrounded by toys and activities leaving the hospital world behind. Parents also find play areas reassuring and familiar - we often observe their stress melting away when they see their children making choices in the play room and regaining a sense of control in what could be a strange and frightening environment. 

However there is a constant need for replacement items like dinosaurs, farm animals, stickle bricks and toy food for the play kitchens. Without the Moorfields Eye Charity grant these would not be able to be replaced as readily and the patient journey for children would be a boring and possibly fearful experience for many paediatric patients in Moorfields.

Finding a solution

Play Specialists and Play Leaders are vital members of our paediatric multidisciplinary team, qualified to support young children and provide entertainment and fun in the hospital environment. 

Play Specialists are trained to prepare young patients for procedures and to distract them from treatment, often using toys, lights and pictures kept especially for this purpose. 

The play team use some toys to encourage role play often using Our World” toys - dolls in wheelchairs or on crutches, families with parents with disabilities or a dolls house and a toy hospital. 

Play allows children to communicate so that the play staff can assess their anxiety levels and knowledge of their condition

The potential

There have been approximately 40,000 paediatric appointments, admissions to the day care ward and A&E attendances in the RDCEC 2018-2019. 

The play team provide creative and enjoyable activities for paediatric patients in all these services. Without this funding they would not be able to buy the craft materials, reward presents for children undergoing blood tests, appropriate magazines and word searches - all of which make such a positive contribution to their appointments in Moorfields. 

The services for children in Moorfields are regularly inspected and we recently received the report by the CQC on the latest Picker” patient survey. We have scored outstandingly well in all these recent reports with the play opportunities for young patients in Moorfields highlighted as being exemplary. 

Project Details

Funding scheme

Patient support grant

Grant holder

RDCEC, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Area(s) of work

Patient experience | Paediatrics

Award level


Grant reference