COVID-19: charity advises on treating seriously ill children

WellChild gives guidance for families caring for children with complex needs and managing carers in the home 

Picture shows a woman with a child wearing an oxygen mask. WellChild gives guidance for families caring for children with complex needs, managing care in the home and for health professionals working with children, including safeguarding advice.
Picture: Alamy

A children’s charity has released guidance on how to keep children with complex health needs who are living at home safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WellChild, which helps seriously ill children to be cared for at home instead of in hospital and funds specialist nursing posts, has drawn together tips to help nurses, carers and families, while also calling on the government to issue additional guidance for this vulnerable group.  

The guidance, Ten ways to keep my child with complex health needs safe, includes simple lists of practical instructions, and provides links to official information sources and resources such as downloadable posters for outside and around the home. The charity has also issued what it calls Seven rules for managing carers in the home, with information for families who have carers coming into the home to give them some respite from caring responsibilities.

It includes recommendations such as:

  • Contacting a GP or hospital to ensure the family has at least two months’ medication supply.
  • Encouraging families to make a contingency plan to see if family or close friends could be trained to help in case of an emergency.
  • Ensuring whole households, including visiting nurses and carers, adhere to a decontamination process, including handwashing, showers, changing clothes.

WellChild director of nursing Tara Parker said: ‘These guidelines are simply there to remind all nurses and carers that they have a duty to try and minimise the risk to their vulnerable clients.’

The charity’s chief executive, Colin Dyer, said: ‘We are continuing to call on the government to urgently issue additional official guidance and provide reassurances that proper contingency plans are being put in place for this highly vulnerable group of children and young people.’

Guidance from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has released guidance for nurses and healthcare professionals working in children’s nursing amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

It covers safeguarding, ‘looked after’ and vulnerable children, including:

  • Basing judgements on the best interests of the child
  • Separating different age groups if there is an influx of young adults into children’s wards
  • Contingency plans for the care of children if parents, foster carers, connected carers and residential home workers become unwell
  • Planning for continuing the supply of food and medicines

RCN professional lead for children and young people’s nursing Fiona Smith said: ‘Many children’s nurses may be worried about potentially being asked to work in different settings or to care for different client groups.

‘The RCN and the Nursing and Midwifery Council have issued clear guidance to support them. The RCN is working with many other organisations to provide supportive advice and our FAQs are being updated as new information, advice and guidance emerges.’

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