Last week I sat with nurses, commissioners, the local authority team and head teachers at one of the Special Schools in our area. I love getting out to these schools, they are are always bright, welcoming and I’m guaranteed to get a dazzling smile from children who will have received acute health care at some stage but are now in their ‘right place’ in school, at home, in the heart of their community. Together we explored how to best support children and young people who have nursing needs in special schools given the challenges of recruitment and retention. From a health we talked about the importance of continuity of carer, limiting the numbers of contacts a child has with professionals by supporting teaching assistants to undertake care related roles when trained and supported to do so. Yet a different perspective was given from education of the desire to see children engaging with a variety people. It was an example of how we come from different cultures, differing perspectives, ‘we want to increase the social interactions our children have’ they shared. This simple conversation demonstrates that whilst health and education have the best of intentions to meet needs with the resources at hand, we offer different insights, reinforcing the need for collaborative dialogue. The RCN https://www.rcn.org.uk/-/media/royal-college-of-nursing/documents/forums/children-and-young-people/staying-healthy-forum/school-nurses-toolkit-2017.pdf and guidance from DfE on Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions (DfE 2015) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/803956/supporting-pupils-at-school-with-medical-conditions.pdf offers helpful direction to those providing services, the reality is it takes us all to want partnerships to work if we’re to care for children with complex needs in the very best way.
As we all work towards better integration and collaboration across health, social care and education we have to be prepared to learn more about each other’s worlds, considering different languages and cultures in these services.
I came across a guide by the Local Government Association @LGAcomms for new lead council members for children and young people, it gives a clear overview of council priorities relating to children https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/15%2067%20Lead%20Member%20for%20Children%27s%20Services%20-%20First%20Ten%20Days_03.pdf Clearly the demands of this role are significant. One addition I’d make is encouraging Lead Members to spend time with local health partners to see the care commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England. This will help secure a ‘whole picture’ of the support delivered to children and young people. Understanding the health contribution in meeting needs of Children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), along with identifying good practice and whilst securing knowledge relating to gaps in services is important.
I also managed to get out to one of the local Children’s centres last week to attend a session with nursery, primary school teachers and SENCOs discussing the local authority ‘Early help’ offer to children, young people and families, here’s a summary of what’s offered locally https://www.towerhamlets.gov.uk/lgnl/health__social_care/children_and_family_care/Early_Help/Early_Help_Hub.aspx Understanding the types of help these hubs can signpost to is important for all staff in EDs, Outpatients and on wards including NICUs/SCBU. We spend a lot of time with families, and raising awareness of early help is something we can do more of. One of our Assessment Unit Sisters immediately grasped the opportunity to display information.
One thing we also explored was that early help wasn’t limited to early years, adolescents can be offered early help too, as can parents of adolescents. The Children’s Society have a research briefing on Adolescent neglect that is insightful https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-we-do/research/understanding-adolescent-neglect
As the political landscape is so chaotic a number of Children’s Charities have grasped the opportunity to seek help from the public to ask the new Prime Minister to set out their ambition and commitment to children, will you ask them to too? here’s the link to speak up for children… https://act.childrenssociety.org.uk/page/43598/action/1?locale=en-GB