Since its establishment in 1970 CIH has sought to highlight the rights and welfare of children in hospital, the specific challenges faced by children in hospital and their parents or carers, the right of the child in hospital to play, and the need for a more child-centred approach in the provision of healthcare services for children. CIH is widely recognised to have played an important role in influencing many positive changes that have occurred in hospital care for children in Ireland over recent decades.  Today there are approximately 500 volunteers that facilitate play and provide information services within 14 paediatric units around Ireland.

In the early years, CIH advocated in particular for recognition of the right of parents to stay with their child in hospital, for visiting times to be extended, and for the facilitation of visits by siblings and other family members. It urged that children’s units be provided in all general hospitals where children were being treated and that these units be staffed by personnel with paediatric training.
CIH also promoted the right of children to have access to education while in hospital and the need to develop hospital play specialist services.
Today, CIH continues its advocacy activities, in particular by bringing to the attention of policymakers and hospital managements, including the development team for the Children’s Hospital Group, the insights and knowledge which CIH has gained from its work and especially
from direct contacts with children in hospital and their families. CIH also continues to draw attention the importance of providing opportunities for play and recreation for children and young people in hospital, the positive role which play and recreation can have in recovering from illness and the need for increased provision of hospital play specialist services.

Making hospital a happier place for children through play and advocacy


We would like to introduce you to the people whose hard work and commitment ensures that Children in Hospital Ireland continues to make hospital a happier place for children.


Since 1970, Children in Hospital Irealnd’s team of staff, supporters and volunteers have been playing a major role in initiating and furthering changes in how children are cared for in Irish hospitals.

The adventure started in 1969, when the Organisation Mondiale pour l’Education Pre-scolaire (the world organisation for pre-school education) carried out a unique survey in 17 Dublin Hospitals and published a report on visiting hours, accommodation for parents, and educational and play facilities. The report brought to light a number of important issues relating to these matters.


At the heart of Children in Hospital Ireland’s work is its play service which is now available to children in hospitals throughout Ireland. It is the only charity managing such a voluntary service in Irish hospitals. By providing engaging and supportive play in wards, playrooms, emergency departments and outpatient departments, Children in Hospital Ireland play volunteers nurture curiosity and creativity and provide distraction from the stress of being in hospital.

Did you know?

  • Each year in Ireland there are, on average, over 270,000 hospital visits by children!
  • For over 100,000 children this means an average of a 3-night stay.
  • Every year, 75,000 child inpatients are under 4 years of age and almost all are admitted through A&E – an unexpected and unplanned visit.

Making hospital a happier place for children through play and advocacy


Children are particularly vulnerable, both physically and emotionally. For them, being in hospital can be a source of anxiety and fear, especially if they are unexpectedly separated from their family. Along with having to cope with illness, this difficult experience can affect their normal growth and development.

Children in Hospital Ireland is at the forefront in:

  • Promoting the welfare of sick children by drawing attention to their special needs for emotional security
  • Advocating on behalf of all sick children
  • Supporting and helping parents before, during and after their child’s stay in hospital
  • Highlighting the additional needs of sick children to policy and decision makers
  • Organising hospital play schemes with the help of a group of dedicated volunteers

By browsing through our website, you will learn about all aspects of our work and the services we provide. If you would like more detailed or specific information about any aspect of our work and services, please contact our dedicated team.

Children in Hospital Ireland is a registered charity (Charity No. 6632) and is a company limited by guarantee, (Children in Hospital Ireland) registered in Dublin, Ireland. (Company Registration No. 297192)