Play – a small word with many meanings

Three-year-old Sienna has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer. She was first introduced to Haven House in March 2018 shortly after her diagnosis and started using the Hospice at Home service.

Until her diagnosis Sienna was attending nursery, but due to the risk of infection, due to reduced immunity following chemotherapy treatment, she was unable to go, and she really missed her friends. Her parents were keen for her to continue enjoying structured play. Haven House’s play coordinator Danielle visited Sienna at home.

When I first met Sienna she was shy and anxious. We often find that children think we are arriving to do something invasive to them as they are used to hospital visits and procedures but as soon as she saw my bag full of toys she smiled and really warmed to me. Sienna is a bright, playful and happy girl. She enjoys painting, stories and bubbles. She loves role playing and we would spend time having tea parties and being farm animals. We would sit and read stories together. Her parents were worried that she wasn’t eating much due to the chemotherapy, so we spent time together making pizza and cupcakes to try and encourage her appetite.

Danielle, play co-ordinator


Mum Vanessa said: It was so great for Sienna to have some respite from mummy. Her time with Danielle was filled with singing, cooking, reading and games which she really enjoyed, and it meant I had time to have a rest, get some jobs done or recharge my batteries! My chats with Danielle helped me more than she will ever know.

Mum, Vanessa


At Haven House Children’s Hospice, we recognise the importance of play for children and the significance this has on their happiness, well-being and inclusion.

We do everything we can at the hospice, not only to provide the medical and nursing care that they need, but to enable them to participate in children’s hobbies and social activities. More often than not, this means facilitating everyday children’s activities – dressing up, painting, playing with puppets, messy play – or in the case of our young adults, cooking, movie nights, board games and music groups. By enabling young people to do these things, in a safe and practical way, they don’t have to feel excluded from what we take for granted.

You can help more children like Sienna benefit from from spending time with our Play Specialists, either at the hospice, or in their home. £35 could pay for one session of play, make a donation here.