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Meet Freddie the new addition to our play specialist team!

Posted: 15 Marcjh 2017
Kelly White, Senior Communications Officer

Freddie Hatchett is six years old and has been coming into hospital along with his 11-year-old brother Charlie, since soon after birth.

Picture of Freddie Hatchet with two of the team from Starfish WardThe idea of going into hospital may sometimes seem a little scary for children. They are big, full of people and very different to home. The play team is very child-focused and is often the link between home and the hospital. Play can help children deal with fears or worries about hospital, their illness or treatment. If a child has a difficult or painful procedure coming up, such as a blood test or dressing change, or an operation, a play specialist will provide preparation and distraction therapy to teach them ways of coping.

Freddie, who has known our play specialists from a very early age, decided one day that he wanted to be a play specialist and help out with jobs whenever he was in hospital.

Every time Freddie comes into hospital, which is as frequently as every three weeks, often for up to two weeks at a time, he now has his own list of tasks to carry out. As well as making a thank you card for Father Christmas who came to the children's party, he regularly checks the pieces in the puzzle boxes; laminates posters; helps to take things to the post room; glues displays and talks to other children to make them feel better.

Helen Cripps, play specialist, said: "We took it a step further before Christmas and ordered him a purple polo top to match ours. He even chose his own badge that says ‘Freddie, play assistant’. He also has a proper lunch break with us and we paid him chocolate as wages."

Picture of Freddie Hatchet playing on Starfish WardHis mum, Emma Hunter, is a nursery nurse on Starfish ward. She said: "Freddie now enjoys coming into hospital and he won’t leave the house until he has his top and his badge with him. I feel this has helped give him a focus and he now has a smile on his face every time he is in hospital."

In the same way that the team uses a variety of tools to help children overcome any fears or anxieties about their treatments, Freddie is no exception. He has already created a book to explain to other children about what happens when you have an intravenous “drip” (a thin tube that slides into a vein) and is now in the process of making a book about what happens when you have a gastrostomy. (A surgical opening through the abdomen into the stomach through which a feeding device is inserted.)

Emma said: "This is a new procedure for Freddie, so being able to write a book along his journey helps him to understand what he will go through. I am sure this will be helpful for other children to read this from another child’s perspective and help reassure them that they are not the only child going through the same experience."

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For more information about our hospitals, visit www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk. You can also join our near 5,324 followers on Twitter (twitter.com/westhertsNHS) or find us on Facebook (facebook.com/westhertsNHS).

  1. For more information, please contact Kelly White, Senior Communications Officer in the Trust’s communications department on telephone: 01923 436 281 or email: info@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228 031.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three sites at Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals and sees about 600,000 patients a year. We are one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.