Setting up a Project Play Scheme

The Cambridge University Paediatric Society have written a fantastic guide to starting your own Project Play Scheme…

Hello, and welcome to ‘The Cambridge University Paediatrics Society Guide to Project Play’. Project Play is a fantastic scheme both to take part in and organise so we have written this document to inspire and advise you on how to set up and run a similar project at your own medical school. For the purpose of clarity we have split the guide into 3 main sections:

  • An explanation of what project play is;
  • A description of how we run project play in Cambridge;
  • Things to consider when setting up and running a similar project at your own medical school.

We hope you find the document informative and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us. Enjoy!

What is project play?

Project Play is a student run scheme with 3 aims:

  • to give medical students more experience in paediatrics;
  • to make hospital a more enjoyable time for children;
  • to support the work of the Addenbrooke’s play team.

Once students have completed the appropriate training, they sign up for weekly ward or clinic based play sessions organised by the project play coordinators. During these sessions volunteers are not expected to take part in clinical activity but instead interact and play with the children present, whether they are patients or siblings. There are no set scripts for sessions as we think it is important that students use their creativity and adapt activities to the needs of the child they are playing with. After all, some children will want the exhilaration of pretending to be an F1 driver whilst others might prefer the calm of arts and crafts. Each session is conducted in pairs and supervised by a member of the Addenbrooke’s play team.

How we run project play in Cambridge

Although you will need to tailor the scheme to your own medical school and hospital in we thought it would be helpful to give you an explanation of how we run Project Play in Cambridge. We have broken this down into ‘training volunteers’ and ‘running play sessions’.

Training volunteers

We believe it is crucial that students complete a certain level of training before they are allowed to volunteer with Project Play. This is not only to keep patients and students safe but also to make play sessions as fun and enjoyable as possible. Here is a rough guide to how we run training:

Organising the training session
  1. Organise a date and time for the training session with the play specialist coordinating project play (they run most of the training session).
  2. Book a venue for the training session which has the necessary facilities (e.g. projector) and capacity.
  3. Use the CUPS mailing list and Facebook page to send out a google form for students to sign up to the training session with. Consider the number of people you can train in one session when making the form (we limit it to about 30).
  4. Send the names of all the students who signed up for the training day to the appropriate medical school administrator asking them to confirm that each person is a medical student currently studying at the university. This is important for child protection.
  5. Once students have been confirmed by the medical school email them to confirm their place on the training day, remind them of the date, time and place. Also, tell them that before the session they must:
    1. Complete child safeguarding modules 1 and 2, print out the certificates of completion and bring them to the training day;
    2. Complete the pre-project play survey (designed as part of a research project with questions focus mainly around confidence interacting with children).
  6. Print
    1. a sign in sheet for people who attend the training session
    2. volunteer agreement forms for each student to sign (these outline the role and responsibilities of Project Play volunteers)
    3. Badge forms that allow students to go get a ‘Play assistant’ ID badge from the Addenbrooke’s ID administration department after completing the training. Students are handed these forms at the end of the training session.
Running the training session
    1. Trainees fill in their name on the sign in sheet.
    2. Trainees sign their volunteer agreement form and hand them into the project play coordinator.
    3. Trainees receive a volunteer pack and badge form from the project play coordinators.
    4. Play a warm up game designed to get people active and having fun
    5. Play specialist gives a presentation on the importance of play for children, what play teams do in hospitals and what Project Play does.
    6. Students produce thought showers on different activities they could do in a play session and or with a given list of equipment.
    7. Play another game.
    8. Give practical advice about volunteering and answer any questions.
    9. Explain next steps for volunteers:
      1. Send a request to be added to the FB page (this is a closed group only for trained volunteers);
      2. Fill in the badge form and return it to the ID administration department where they will be issued a ‘Play assistant badge’. Students cannot volunteer without a badge;
      3. Once they have their badges they can sign up to play sessions.
    10. Give a tour of the paediatrics department.
After the training session
  1. Record a list of the students who attended the training session. These are the ONLY students who should be added to the closed Facebook group and sent emails with links for signing up to sessions.
  2. Start organising play sessions.

Organising play sessions

Once you have a group of trained students you can start organising play sessions for them to volunteer at.

Before the play session
  1. Email the play specialist coordinating project play to ask for a list of dates and times for students to volunteer. A play specialist who is happy to supervise students on the ward/clinic needs to be present at during these times (NB the supervising play specialist is not meant to be observing the volunteers during the session just available on the ward/clinic to provide help and support if needed).
  2. Put these times and dates onto a ‘preliminary project play sign-up sheet’.
  3. Send the sign-up sheet out to students who have been FULLY trained and post on the closed FB group of FULLY trained volunteers. Remember to inform students that they must sign up in pairs for sessions by midnight the Wednesday before.
  4. At midnight the Wednesday before the play session transfer the volunteers for the week to a view only play session spreadsheet for that week.
  5. Send the view only sheet for the week to the play coordinator/specialists on the ward so they can see who will be volunteering.
  6. Send an email to volunteers who have signed up explaining:
    1. When and where to turn up for their session;
    2. To wear comfortable but tidy clothes;
    3. They MUST wear their project play ID badges during the session;
    4. If students cannot make session they must find someone else to swap with and email the student coordinator;
    5. When they arrive at the session they should report to the play specialist and nurse in charge of the ward/clinic and sign in to the project play book.
  7. Send out further reminder emails.
During play session
  1. Students should find the play specialist on duty and nurse in charge
  2. Sign-in using the project play book.
  3. Get playing!
  4. Clean up any toys or equipment used.
After play session
  1. Students should fill in any feedback they have from the session in the project play book.
  2. Students should fill in the post-project play survey (designed for research to gauge how the project affects their confidence in interacting with children).

Things to consider when setting up Project Play

Having explained how we run project play we thought it would be helpful to write a list of things that we think are important to consider when setting up project play at your medical school. Click each point to reveal more info!

Who do you need to get in contact with?

We wouldn’t be able to run the project without the help of the Addenbrooke’s play team so we strongly advise you get in contact with your hospital’s play team ASAP. Furthermore, it would probably be helpful to contact your paediatrics department to see if they can provide any advice and help (especially if your hospital has a relatively small play team).

Who will coordinate the project and what will their roles involve?

We have two student Project Play coordinators who are also part of the CUPS committee. Their role is predominantly to organise the student volunteers (mainly training sessions and sign-up sheets). The lead Addenbrooke’s play specialist also plays a key role and is responsible for deciding when and where sessions can occur, keeping the volunteer documents and running the bulk of each training session.

What safeguarding measures are necessary?

Safeguarding is a key issue throughout paediatrics so it probably won’t surprise you that we place great importance on it in Project Play. At Cambridge we require that students are confirmed as current University of Cambridge Medical students before they can be trained. We further require these students to complete the safeguarding 1 and 2 e-modules and the full project play training session. Once trained students can get a ‘Play assistant ID badge’ which they must wear during play sessions. Students must also attend sessions in pairs and a play specialist must be supervising them during the session. We advise students that if they see any safeguarding concerns they must report it to the play specialist and nurse in charge.

What volunteer training is required and how will you run it?

The majority of our training sessions are run by the play specialist coordinator of Project Play who does a fantastic job. The main focuses of the sessions are ‘why is play important’, ‘what play specialists do’, ‘what activities might you do whilst volunteering’ and ‘how project play works’. We usually run two training sessions a year and limit them to 30 students per session.

Where and when will play sessions take place?

We have held play sessions in wards and clinics. Both environments give students a great opportunity to play with children so the main thing is to be guided by your play specialists and paediatrics department. We only organise sessions at times and dates that play specialists involved in the scheme are working on the ward/clinic. This ensures that students have the support and supervision they need.

How will students sign up for play sessions?

Once the play specialists have given us the available dates, we add these to an editable google sheet which is shared on the closed Facebook group and sent out to trained volunteers. It is vitally important to make sure that only trained volunteers can access this sign up. Of course making volunteers wear project play ID badges to training sessions is another safety net to prevent anyone who hasn’t been trained/completed the appropriate checks from signing up. Once they have signed up their names can be transferred to a read only sheet that can be sent to the play specialists.

What supervision will students need and how will you coordinate it?

We only organise play sessions at times when play specialists who want to be involved in the scheme are working on the ward/clinic. The play specialists are not there to constantly observe and manage students but instead to provide advice and help if students need it. If there were to be any safeguarding issues the play specialist along with the nurse in charge would be one of the first people to report to.

How will you get feedback?

We always want to be improving project play so we ask volunteers to provide feedback in the project play book after each session as well as completing end of term feedback questionnaires.

How will you reward volunteers?

Although project play is a fantastic experience in itself we think that it is important to reward volunteers, especially those who show long term commitment. Therefore, we record the number of sessions each volunteer does over the year and then send out certificates that acknowledge their contribution. Certificates are either bronze, silver or gold depending on how many sessions a student has done. We encourage students to add these certificates to their portfolios especially if they interested in a career within paediatrics.

Good luck!

We apologise for the length of this document but hopefully it has given you some helpful information and advice. Of course, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in contact with us!

All the best,

Amedine and Richard (2018/19 CUPS Project Play Coordinators)