Therapy through play

Rainbow Trust’s Family Support Workers take on a number of roles within their day-to-day work: Transport provider. Tea maker. Hug giver. Day out facilitator. Tear wiper. Food shopper. Face painter.

We provide a wide range of support services to the sick child, siblings, parents and wider family alike. However, there’s one common factor in everything we do – we do what we do with the aim of making your poorly child smile. Playing with children is something that we will encounter on an almost daily basis.

Play, fun and laughter are all elements we try to incorporate into our interactions with both sick children and their siblings; playing helps children to communicate at their own level, pace and medium.

In a hospital setting, play during painful treatment acts as a happy distraction, and Family Support Workers can keep the sick child entertained while Mum and Dad are speaking with doctors. In a bereavement setting, play enables children to understand confused feelings and upsetting experiences that they haven’t yet had a chance to process.

While adults favour talking about their worries and concerns, we allow children to express themselves in whichever manner they are comfortable. Family Support Workers not only play with children in hospital or at home, but we organise day trips, outings to the cinema and soft play centres, and run drop-in groups, some specifically designed for siblings only, so they can be the sole focus of attention as we appreciate siblings can sometimes feel they are left out.

Rainbow Trust Family Support Workers use a wide range of fun play types, from out of the box toys, to imaginative games and more creative and therapeutic types of play, such as arts and crafts. For older children we can help nurture hobbies and fun interests, for example aiding teenagers to develop their talent for photography, or simply sitting and playing video games with them after a tough day at the hospital.

Play can act as a vital coping mechanism for children and young people who are going through any kind of distress or trauma, and achieving a goal during play or creating something from scratch can really help in building a child’s confidence and self-esteem through difficult times.

Rainbow Trust can’t make the diagnosis go away, and we can’t provide a cure. But we can provide an additional pair of hands and ears, and bring a smile and laughter through some of the toughest times children and their families will ever face.

Luci, Family Support Worker