This week marked the official launch of the post, held by Paula Brooke, which has been made possible through funding from global healthcare company GSK.
Paula is based at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport but will be helping children across the Island. Through this unique post, she will support families by working closely with colleagues across the hospital and in the ambulance, community and mental health services as well as specialist centres to ensure the highest quality of care.
As the WellChild Children’s Nurse, Paula will help to reduce the time children have to spend in hospital by arranging and coordinating the care they need at home and providing specialist advice as well as emotional and other practical support for the whole family. The WellChild Nurse posts seeks to support families at home to minimize the times they have to be admitted into hospital which can be upsetting for families. Through this post they will receive close support in the community from a nurse who can help parents gain in confidence and guide them through difficult times.
Paula is a qualified children’s nurse with 21 years’ experience working on the Isle of Wight. Her most recent role before she took up her post as WellChild Nurse was as a Senior Staff nurse on the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), developing an outreach service to support families through the process from hospital to home, ensuring adequate services were in place and organising oxygen and equipment needed. She therefore brings considerable expertise and a comprehensive understanding of the needs and challenges faced by the families with whom she will be working.
“I am enjoying the challenge of this new role, meeting new families and introducing the benefits of having a Wellchild nurse. Through my role, with my prior knowledge of hospital and community teams, I will aim to make the process of hospital discharge more streamlined and coordinated for families with children with complex care needs.
“As a key worker for these families I can offer nursing care at home and liaise with other professionals, reducing the need for hospital readmissions.
“I have signposted families to the Wellchild family tree for peer support and made links with Wellchild nurses in local hospitals to share experience. I will also support the respite service to deliver much needed rest and recuperation.”
The WellChild Nurses’ programme was established to address a clear gap in the provision of care and support for children with long-term serious illness and complex conditions. In addition to keeping families together and benefitting a child’s development, it is often more cost efficient to care for a child at home than in hospital.
One child who is benefitting from the extended support WellChild has already enabled is George Burton from the Isle of Wight who was born extremely prematurely and has a condition called pharyngeolaryngo tracheobronchomalacia. He needs a tracheostomy to breathe and is fed through a tube. Since his birth George has already been supported by 2 WellChild Nurses.
George’s mother Rachel said:
“While in Southampton Hospital we had a long term ventilation nurse who was a WellChild nurse, the whole team was so supportive and taught us the skills to get our son home.
“George finally got transferred to the Island in August 2017 and came home in November 2017. Paula Brooke has supported us so much, coming out to help when I’m unsure on something, she will bring out my supplies if I can’t get to the hospital. She is always at the end of the phone to help, she will also take the stress away from me if carers need sorting out, such as changing hours or days. I can’t thank her enough.”
WellChild’s pilot Children’s Nurse programme began in 2006, and its success has already resulted in the creation of posts across the UK, including in Ayrshire, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cumbria, Newcastle, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Hywel Dda in Wales, Kirklees, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Oxford, Southampton, Walsall and West Sussex with more posts to come.
Linda Partridge, WellChild’s Director of Programmes, said:
“We have worked to make sure that the essential service now provided by WellChild Children’s Nurses in regions of the UK have a long-reaching impact. Our target is for every seriously ill child or young person to have access to a WellChild Children’s Nurse, and I am delighted that we have now been able to extend that support into the Isle of Wight.”
For further information about WellChild’s work, see www.wellchild.org.uk.