The Story of Play

In 2012 the Therapeutic play manager here at Addenbrooke’s wanted to write a History of Play at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. I was able to help her with some research and photos and she wrote a lovely report, extracts of which will be reproduced here over the next few weeks.

When the hospital first opened all wards were set up as single sex wards and children were placed with adults of the same sex. In the early 20th century funds were raised and a ward was built specifically for nursing children, (this was the ward on the top left of the old hospital) but with the outbreak of the First World War it was used for nursing military personnel. It wasn’t until 1932 that a new wing to the hospital was opened by the then Duke and Duchess of York, which contained a 30 bedded ward dedicated to the nursing of children.

At this time all the needs of the children were met by the nurses including clinical duties, feeding, bathing and playing with the children. The experience for those children included very limited visiting from their family. Some people remember their parents could visit once a week and only for a few hours, if siblings came to visit the closest they saw them were through the windows.

The child’s overall experience in hospital was an important part treating their illnesses and then having time to recover before going home. The days were structured and where possible including, on warm days, being taken outside in their cot or enjoying an outdoor party.

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