As Health Care Providers (HCPs) we strive to enhance and support C&YP during any health and clinical input. We do this in a positive, honest way and with a willingness to learn. It is within our capabilities to promote active involvement in health and care, as well as improve emotional and well-being services, feedback and collaboration between C&YP and health care providers. Some of the key concepts I use when working and sharing with C&YP are clarity, respect and offering time to listen and be present, as this supports clear, correct information sharing. When there are accessible platforms for communication, engagement and honesty, we open the door for effective health care partnerships.

As we work towards a greater understanding of what C&YP need, what we already know is that if C&YP feel supported and listened to, they are better able to learn and become partners in decision making. After all, these experiences are happening to them – it’s their bodies and their health. I ask clear and direct questions to C&YP. This allows two things to take place; I share my honesty and it shows them that I am present.


“What allows you to feel safe?” is a question I use with C&YP every day. I feel this is relevant in all health settings. If we as HCPs can do things to allow our C&YP to feel safe, however small, it can really help. Like, respecting from a distance and not overwhelming a CYP in an already overwhelming experience.

I use the acronym C.O.L.L.I.E to demonstrate the skills and behaviours I want to share with C&YP:
Communication – Shared, clear, to the point, alternative communication methods
Observe – Body Language, eye contact
Listen – Actively and being present

Language – Clarity, explanations, duel language
Interest – Being present, finding a balance, sharing common ground
Engage – Planning and future projects, where can help and support be sough

C&YP share their feedback with me about things they feel would enhance their long term care:
– Treatment plans, so they know what is going to happen to them;
– Opportunities to ask questions and to have a discussion;
– Sharing their biggest worries with someone who
will acknowledge how hard it was for them to share.

Here are some of the ways I ask important questions, and offer support within healthcare and community settings:

– ‘How caSian 1n I support you today?’
– ‘Do you want to discuss what has happened? Can I help you to work things out?’
– ‘What can we do to help you to feel safe?’ (When I ask this question, I often follow it with    “What we say andshare together is private.
However, if you share something with me and it makes me feel you are unsafe, then I have to  share it so we can work together and make a plan of safety.”)

– ‘Can we talk, or share your worries?’ (I offer different ways to express their worries, as sometimes it is easier for C&YP to paint/draw/make music to share how they feel. Health Play Specialists are key within the team.)
– ‘Let’s write down some of your questions and then we will know what you want to know.’
– ‘Would you like someone to be with you and the doctor when you are discussing issues that you find tricky?’


During recovery and time spent in hospital, I offer activities to promote wellbeing and coping strategies to support beyond the hospital/medical experience. I use the “Tower of Jenga Strength”, which I describe this at length at

It is so important to engage with C&YP. With recent projects and research it is evident that sharing resources will help us pave the way to effective joint working. allows us to link in, learn and share.

Sian Spencer-Little
Specialised Play and Activities Practitioner