Health Play Specialist

Job Description:

Health play specialists understand child development and use therapeutic play activities to help children cope when in hospital.

Job Category:
Health Care & Social Assistance

What you will do:

As part of this role you may:

  • carry out therapeutic assessments
  • design play activities to meet children’s individual needs
  • plan and run play, art and craft activities at the bedside, on the ward or in a hospital play area
  • create an environment that encourages play
  • talk to parents or carers about the value of play and suggest suitable activities
  • organise parties and other special events


You’ll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • customer service skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure (leadership skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Health Play Specialist, you will typically need a combination of formal education, relevant qualifications, and practical experience. While there are no specific subjects required for this role, having a strong educational foundation and certain skills can be advantageous. Here are some relevant subjects and skills:

  1. English Language: Effective communication skills, including verbal and written communication, are essential for interacting with children, their families, and healthcare professionals.
  2. Biology or Science: A basic understanding of biology or science can be helpful in understanding the medical conditions of children and how play therapy can be used to support their recovery.
  3. Psychology: Knowledge of child psychology can be beneficial in understanding children’s emotional and psychological needs and how play can help address them.
  4. Mathematics: Basic math skills can be important for tasks like keeping records and managing resources efficiently.
  5. Art or Creative Subjects: Creativity is a key component of play therapy, so subjects related to art or creative activities can be valuable.
  6. Physical Education (PE): Understanding the importance of physical activity and play in a child’s development can be useful.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering


You’ll need a foundation degree in a healthcare play specialism. To get onto the course, you usually need:

  • a childcare qualification
  • to have studied English and maths
  • at least 2 years’ experience of working with children – paid or voluntary

Courses are a mix of practical work and theory. If you’re not already working in healthcare play, you need to arrange a placement during the course.


You may be able to do a health play specialist practitioner higher apprenticeship.

You will need some experience of working with children in a childcare or healthcare setting.


Volunteering in a healthcare setting will give you useful work experience for applying for courses and jobs.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 37-39 hours of work. You could be required to work weekends.

You could work in a public or private hospital. You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

You could go on to work outside of a hospital setting, for example in a child development centre, hospice, or within a community paediatric team.

With experience, you could progress to team leader or team manager.

You could also apply to train as a healthcare professional, like a nurse or occupational therapist.