Following a nationwide search Janie Saunders, a health play specialist working in the emergency department of The Royal London Hospital, was named Starlight's Health Play Specialist of the Year.
Each year, Starlight conducts a nationwide search; discovering inspirational stories of the outstanding work they do, and the impact their work has on patients and colleagues. Janie was nominated by colleagues for the impact she has on the children she works with and the wider medical team.
Play and distraction is an integral part of treatment for a child in hospital, in Janie’s case when they arrive at A&E, but for others who may have ongoing treatment it is important and invaluable in preserving childhood while in hospital.
Janie remarked: “This means so much to me – to be nominated by senior members of the A&E team, who I have huge respect for is truly overwhelming. To be judged on my work and what I do on the ‘shop floor’ means an immeasurable amount and I am truly humbled. This secures the thought that the team I work with recognise play and my role as an important part of a child’s journey in A&E.”
Cathy Gilman Starlight CEO, and one of the three judges, stated; “Starlight recognises the importance of play and distraction and is dedicated to supporting health play specialists with our services. Janie’s nomination stood out to all the judges due to her commitment to going above and beyond with incredible results in a very challenging environment.”
Janie’s work shone through and was exemplified through the examples of what her day-to-day work entails. Arriving in A&E, a child can be traumatised and the role Janie plays to help prepare them to receive the medical attention they need is a vital part of their admission and treatment.
The award was presented during the National Associations of Health Play Specialists (NAHPS) awareness week for ‘Play in Hospital’.