Today we are pleased to announce that Audrey Mackay, a health play specialist who works at the Borthwick Ward at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh as the winner of the Health-related Play Award. Audrey’s story is captured below by journalist and TV Presenter Catriona Shearer.
Health-related play is more than just a chance to have fun; it’s an essential part of treatment that can help to speed up recovery – either in hospital or at home. This award recognises the importance and complexity of supporting children and young people who have a brain injury or brain tumour through health-related play.
Audrey Mackay works as a play specialist within the Borthwick Ward at the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh. It’s where young patients with conditions affecting their brain, spine, or nervous system come for tests, treatments, and in-patient stays.
Audrey’s role combines a practical knowledge of the tests undertaken with an understanding of what children and parents need to help them through this often-traumatic experience. It’s this mix of skills and experience that the Scottish Children’s Health Awards judging panel believe make her a ‘very worthy winner’ of this award.
“I didn’t know I’d been nominated until my Charge Nurse, Joan, told me I had won. I couldn’t believe it – I still don’t; it’s amazing,” says Audrey. “I have worked in the NHS as a nursery nurse since 1999 – and for 12 years I’ve been based in the Paediatric Neurology ward. I first met Joan in 2006 when she became my Charge Nurse. I want to thank her for nominating me.”
Audrey’s role on the Borthwick Ward is based with the play team. “I meet the children, young people and their families and we chat all about their likes, hobbies, their fears and anxieties. I will then revolve play activities around what is familiar to them. This helps to relax and distract them from procedures and investigations and aids recovery.”
Anything that makes the children’s stay in hospital less stressful is Audrey’s aim. “It may be just a wee chat, arts and crafts, gaming, story time, singing, dancing or a messy play activity. If I can brighten up a child or young person’s time while they’re in hospital, then I’m over the moon.”
With work and a happy home life rooted in Edinburgh, Audrey likes to travel the country when she has time off, with vintage fairs and music festivals a favourite with her and her husband. She has two grown-up daughters, and three grown-up grandchildren so has a little more time to devote to these hobbies. But work is very much still an important part of Audrey’s life. She says, “I’m blessed to have met so many children, young people and their families over the years. The courage and bravery that they have shown melts my heart.”
Winning this award is testament to Audrey’s commitment, professionalism and dedication to those children, young people and their families. We’re pretty sure she’s melted a few hearts herself. Congratulations Audrey on winning the Health-related Play Award.
The Scottish Children’s Health Awards have been created to celebrate courageous children and those who are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland. Health-related play is more than just a chance to have fun – it is a serious business when it comes to children’s health and wellbeing. It can help children physically, mentally and emotionally and is an essential part of treatment that can help to speed up recovery either in hospital or at home. This award celebrates those who are making a significant difference to a child’s life through health-related play.