PLENTY of smiles were raised as Dorset County Hospital celebrated the joys of playtime.

Young patients and staff at the Dorchester Hospital took part in National Play in Hospital Week to raise awareness of the benefits of play in the treatment of poorly children.

The annual initiative was founded by the National Association of Health Play Specialists (NAHPS) and organised by national children’s charity Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Patients on the Kingfisher Ward demonstrated how play helped them to cope with pain and fear by making pumpkin artwork for a Halloween display.

They also enjoyed Play-Doh and painting parties, karaoke, teddy bear hospital and hospital bingo.

Play specialist at Dorset County Hospital Julie Goodall said: “National Play in Hospital Week is an excellent opportunity for us to raise awareness of the benefits of play, while organising a really fun week of activities, games and entertainment.

Being unwell can be very distressing and scary for children and play really does help to distract them from any pain and anxiety they might be feeling, which in turn can help them to better engage with their treatment.”

Chief executive of the Starlight Children’s Foundation Neil Swann said his organisation was ‘delighted’ to help highlight the role play can have in a child’s hospital treatment.

He said: “As a national charity that brightens the lives of more than half a million poorly children in the UK each year, we are really proud to sponsor National Play in Hospital Week. The work of NAHPS and the health play specialist community is invaluable in the treatment of poorly children.”

Vice chair of NAHPS Irene O’Donnell added: “We know good quality play and recreation opportunities can enhance mental health and the importance of children and young people’s emotional and psychological health is also recognized as having an impact on their physical health. “It is important that we highlight these benefits so that play continues to be recognised as a key element in treatment.”