Editorial

Lessons from team who won more nursing for special schools

The award-winning work of a team who showed the value of nursing in special schools holds lessons for others

The award-winning work of a team who showed the value of nursing in special schools holds lessons for others


Trudy Ward (front, second from left) and members of the Children and Young People’s
Community Nursing Service in West Sussex.

To be able to persuade commissioners to invest more in nursing in special schools is no mean achievement, particularly in a climate of cutbacks.

But that is what Trudy Ward and the Children and Young People’s Community Nursing Service in West Sussex have managed to achieve.

What makes their achievement even more remarkable is that it is not just commissioners in healthcare who were convinced by their work but in education and social care too.

Symptoms went unchecked

At the beginning of a review into special school nursing, conducted with parents and head teachers, there was one special school nurse for 12 schools in one corner of the county, with no nursing input for the rest.

The team used a nursing needs assessment tool to evaluate 1,500 children, many of whom had complex needs or health conditions that included being in pain, with symptoms that were going unchecked during the school day.

The tool made clear the children’s healthcare needs and helped to convince three clinical commissioning groups – who had financial problems at the time – that special school nursing was something they needed to invest more in.

Needs now being met

The result is that the number of special school nurses has risen from one to ten, children are learning more as their everyday healthcare needs are being met, and parents feel more confident about leaving their child at school.

The work of Ms Ward and her team resulted in them being named winners of the child health award at the RCNi Nurse Awards 2018 in a ceremony in London on 4 July. They are already sharing their methods more widely in the hope that healthcare provision will be improved for this group of children, whose numbers in society are growing and who need more support.

With school nursing services nationally being cut or under threat, there are lessons here for others.

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