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.