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Renowned visitor for play specialist team

A renowned professor who introduced the role of hospital play specialists to the Japanese healthcare system after learning of their impact in the UK has visited Poole Hospital to observe practice there.

Professor Chika Matudair spent three days with the hospital’s play specialists this week, learning more about how the role is supporting children who need to come into hospital.

In particular, Prof Matudair wanted to find out more about the support play specialists provide to children whose conditions require them to be ventilated, as well as communications strategies for children with complex needs.

Professor Matudair

Prof Matudair, whose background is in social work, heard about UK play specialists around a decade ago, and undertook studies to qualify as her country’s first qualified expert in this field. There are now estimated to be around 200 play specialists in Japan.

“One of the reasons I was interested in visiting the play team at Poole Hospital was to learn how they work with patients with complex needs, especially children with vision and hearing problems,” said Professor Matudair.

“I learned that all children can be communicated with, and the importance of the child’s dignity when caring for children who can’t always know or understand what is happening when they are in hospital.

“All children, whether in Poole or Japan, are the same - what unites them more than anything is play.

“I envy the professionals I met, who know and understand the importance of play -  this isn’t something that can be taken for granted in Japan.”

Caroline Fawcett, Poole Hospital’s lead play specialist, said it was an honour to welcome Prof Matudair. Caroline has travelled to Japan several times to provide education and teaching support to play specialists there.

“Prof Matudair is hugely respected for her work to introduce the role of play specialists in Japan,” said Caroline.

“From my visits there, it’s been great to see how their role, and those of doctors and nurses, have formed integrated teams to give younger patients as much support, knowledge and confidence as possible.

“The role helps to demystify what going into hospital can mean, and reduce anxiety and promote understanding of what is and will be happening.

“Play specialists in the UK play a vital role in supporting children and it was a real honour that Prof Matudair chose to visit us at Poole Hospital.”

Following this week’s visit, Prof Matudair will travel to Lithuania to address the 27th annual International Council for Children’s Play conference.


Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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