Starship Children’s hospital employs about 22 hospital play specialists who use preparation and distraction play techniques to prepare and support children through illness treatments and procedures.

In children’s emergency hospital literature, play specialist Diane Pope had read about using iPads as a clinical distraction tool, and asked Devonport Rotary Club to fund an iPad for this purpose.

The Club did just that, and members have been delighted to receive wonderful feedback on the use of the iPad at Starship. The children, staff and their families made a giant ‘thank you’ card and inside it they shared their experiences of being able to use the iPad for distraction, aided by the play specialist in numerous procedures. To date the iPad has been used to comfort, distract and prepare children for burns dressing changes, CTscans, IV line insertions, catheters, ketamine procedures and much more.

The children’s feedback has been collected and it is all very positive. Parents have shared stories, including that of a little boy who was unable to speak but could use the ‘tap to talk’ app to enable him to communicate and choose things he would like to play with.  The children can interact with the tablet through the touch screen, responding to both pictures and text.  The tablet’s ability to provide spoken feedback as well as visual prompts makes it an ideal communication device.