For busy parents, Stella’s Playroom at WCH is eliminating barriers to care

2019-01-08 9:18:11 AM

WCH patient and Stella's Playroom client, Alina, with her family. 

As a parent, accessing healthcare and attending appointments can be challenging. The stress and associated costs of finding childcare and appropriate transportation can result in missed appointments and extended gaps in healthcare. Alina, a patient of Women’s College Hospital (WCH), knows this all too well. “I’ve had to attend appointments at the hospital with all three of my young kids before, and focusing on my appointment with them in the room was extremely difficult. All I remember thinking was ‘I wish I had childcare right now!”
Stella’s Playroom is a unique program at Women’s College Hospital that is alleviating these burdens. The Playroom offers free short-term childcare for children up to the age of 13 for WCH patients attending appointments on-site, a service Alina says has greatly improved her ability to access care, “If it weren’t for the playroom, I honestly wouldn’t be able to attend the appointments that I need to at the hospital.”


Laura Carson, a Kids and Company Registered Early Childhood Educator and centre director for Stella’s Playroom, sees first-hand how impactful the program can be for families. “As a patient, when you go to an appointment you want to be able to give your full attention and listen to what your doctor is saying. But when you have a bored or tired child at your feet asking for attention, it’s hard to think about anything else,” she says.
The free program offers activities such as puzzles, games, books, arts and crafts, and imaginative play for children up to the age of 13. Patients of WCH are asked to book care for their children for up to two hours while they attend appointments at the hospital. The program also accepts drop-offs if there is room available. The service is especially useful during the summer months, when parents must find alternative care for their school-age children.
Although the program’s services were initially only offered to patients of WCH’s Women’s Mental Health and Headache programs, it quickly expanded to all patients of the hospital.
“Once we saw the positive effects that Stella’s Playroom was having on children, parents and healthcare providers, we knew we had to expand,” said Carson. “We are constantly having parents thank us and tell us what a relief it is to have such accessible care for their children. We’ve also had doctors who have seen improvements during appointments, particularly when it comes to the attentiveness of the patients. It’s an amazing feeling to know that we are able to help moms who need help.”
Alina shared that her children enjoy the playroom too, “My son loves Laura. When I tell him we’re going to visit her in the playroom, he gets so excited! As a parent, that makes a huge difference.”
To learn more about Stella’s Playroom, click here