Community Nursery Nurse of the Year Barbara Evans told delegates at the inaugral JFHC Live about how her programme of using play to improve children's mental health came about through a one-off encounter.

"The first example of this [benefits of play] was after about 5 months of being a community nursery nurse," she said.

"I met a little boy with his mum. He was three. He spent his day at home, went to no play groups. The entire time, the little boy interrupted the health visitor. When mum was feeding her baby, the boy wanted to disrupt this. It was clear we needed to manage the programme. So after this there we designed a formal assessment and the nursery nurse does a play role assessment with the parents.

"Often there are issues with concentration and they're labelled with ADHD. But a lot of the symptons disappear after the play role."

She explained how many of the signs are common across cases:
- Common referrrals
- Lack of stimulation
- Children who wander around with no focus
- Sitting in front of the TV
- Behaviour management problems
- Children with early stages of developmental delay

But also noted that the play approach enables children to explore naturally and develop self-regulatory skills so by improving their own emotional wellbeing.

She concluded: "The most common referrals are from deprived backgrounds, but also across the board. Many professional women can't cope with children who are not fitting into their lives.

"Where the referrals are appropriate, the compliance is excellent with a low drop out rate. Parents report they're happier, have a higher self esteem and the child is more receptive so family life is much better."

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Posted 29/03/2012 by