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Health play specialist

Alternative titles for this job include Hospital play specialist

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

Average salary (a year)

£20,329 Starter


£31,533 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 a week

You could work


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How to become

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How to become a health play specialist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You'll need a foundation degree in a healthcare play specialism to register with the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust. This is a 2-year, part-time course. To get onto the course, you usually need:

  • a childcare qualification at level 3 or above
  • GCSEs or equivalent in 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.

More Information


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

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

There may be opportunities with the NHS, as well as independent and private providers of healthcare services. You can find vacancies through NHS Jobs and the National Association of Health Play Specialists.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information


You could start as a play assistant with a relevant childcare qualification at level 3 and work your way up by training on the job.


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

You may also find volunteering opportunities where you can gain relevant skills, through The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and Do IT.

More Information

Career tips

Many health play specialists have a background in nursery work. You could also do this job with experience and qualifications in related areas, like community play, nursing, occupational therapy, social work, teaching, art, drama or music therapy.

When applying for jobs and apprenticeships, you'll be expected to have an understanding of how NHS values apply in your work.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a health play specialist from the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust, Health Careers and the National Association of Health Play Specialists.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • customer service skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

You will need to find an experienced and qualified Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust (HPSET) Registered Health Play Specialist who is willing to mentor and assess you in the workplace. When you have successfully completed both the work-based and academic requirements you will be eligible to register with HPSET. Registration is voluntary but recommended.

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

You could work in an NHS or private hospital.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and 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.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Early Years Practitioner Apprentice

  • Wage: £124.80 Weekly
  • Location: Rotherham

Apprentice Early Years Practitioner

  • Wage: £168.00 Weekly
  • Location: Godstone

Courses In England

Level 3 Diploma in Residential Childcare

  • Start date: 14 February 2022
  • Location: Oldham

Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education

  • Start date: 12 September 2022
  • Location: Harrogate

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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