Play, Stay, belong

At each Hospice we hold Stay and Play sessions where parents can drop in with their preschool child for a couple of hours of activities and a cup of tea. But what makes these sessions so different? Anne, Physiotherapist and Stay and Play Coordinator at Acorns, explains more.

Going to a baby and toddler group in your local community is common for new mums and dads.

It gives you a chance to get out of the house, talk to other parents, share tips, and also do those checks about your child’s progress.

Are they learning to talk at the same time, can they walk yet, how well are they feeding? All these questions will usually get discussed over a cup of tea as your child plays.

For the parent of a child who comes to Acorns these groups can make them feel excluded and, at times, upset. They usually stop going.

Why? Because their child has a condition with complex needs. Needs which aren’t catered for at the group.

Tyler at a Stay and Play session with Care Assistant Maria. Tyler is interested in something happening off camera
Tyler and Maria at a Stay and Play session

Their child may not be able to take part in the activities and struggle as they haven’t been adapted to suit them.

The staff may not be fully trained in looking out for the warning signs of a health concern, so they have to keep an eye on them, missing out on chatting to other parents.

And most of all, they can’t avoid the question, “How is your child progressing?”

If your child has a complex care need, that can be a hard question to answer. Their development may be delayed, or they may never fully walk or talk.

This is why we hold our Stay and Play sessions at Acorns.

No one will ask that question and our care teams know how to care for children with these needs. This means parents can take their eye off them and relax.

They can drink that cup of tea and chat to other parents who understand what they’re going through.

Discussions about feeding tubes, house adaptations, walking frames, operations, and hospital appointments are common at a Stay and Play session.

Families feel safe here. Children look happy doing an activity they can actually take part in. And both feel like this is a place where they belong.

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