The School Nursing Special Needs (SNSN) team
Phoenix School’s nursing service
Hello, my name is Caroline Kershaw and I am the Nurse attached to Phoenix School. I visit school daily to help ensure that your child’s holistic health needs are met while they are receiving their education.
I work as part of the School Nursing Special Needs team to support and promote the physical, mental and emotional health of the pupils. Healthy, happy children get the most out of their education and our goal is to help all children achieve this. Other members of the SNSN team also come into Phoenix.
School Nursing has changed a lot over the years, and these days our role is quite diverse - we are not the school’s ‘First Aiders’, nor ‘Nit Nurses’ anymore! So you may be asking, “what do you actually do then?!” To help explain, here is a list of the main things we do in school!
ASSESSMENT AND HEALTH ACTION PLANNING
Before your child comes into school for the first time, we like to visit you and your child at home to complete a Health Needs Assessment to learn about you and your child’s needs. If your child has come to Phoenix from another dedicated Special Needs primary school in Bradford you might have already completed one, so we may simply review your child’s needs and circumstances.
From your child’s Health Needs Assessment, we complete a Health Action Plan that outlines anything we need to at this time. Your child’s health needs are formally reviewed with paediatricians in the school’s Clinics, and also when we contribute to your child’s annual SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) Review.
As your child progresses through school, we work closely with our colleagues in Adult Learning Disability Nursing services to facilitate a smoother transition to adult health services. The Adult LD Nurses will complete an assessment with you and your child usually before their final year of school.
Occasionally we may also undertake Common Assessment Framework (CAF) assessments with your family. This is when the needs of your family seem to be more complex, requiring a co-ordinated multi-agency approach to support your child in the best way.
Depending on your child’s needs, we may need to draw up Care Plans that help school staff to manage your child’s health conditions in school. Care Plans are updated when we become aware of any changes to your child’s medical condition that warrant this. Some care plans may be drawn up by other Health Care professionals which we share with school. Examples of these may include Care Plans for some epilepsy medication from paediatricians, and Feeding Plans from Dieticians.
For all children we are improving our communication systems to ensure that we include, communicate and support them in the best way before undertaking their medical interventions. We also encourage children to complete accessible ‘evaluation forms’ following any sessions we deliver to encourage pupils to ‘have a voice’ within our service. Our Learning Disability Nurse also produces resources to help children understand particular health and welfare messages.
Where appropriate, we undertake Continence assessments for your child. These are reviewed annually by our Health Care Support Workers, to ensure any continence products provided to you are still appropriate for your child. We can also offer help and advice around toilet training, if your child wets the bed or has trouble with constipation and/or diarrhoea. If at any time you feel that your child’s continence products are no longer meeting his or her needs, please contact us for a reassessment.
SUPPORT AND ADVICE
Your school’s Nurse is a good source of advice and support to you and your child, and we can usually ‘signpost’ you to appropriate services if we can’t help you ourselves. We try to attend Coffee Mornings, Open Days and other events where you can meet me or other members of the team, to discuss any worries or issues that you may have. We also try to be around for parents’ evenings when we can. We may not have all the answers, but will do our best to help! If you need help and advice at any time you can leave a message at school or at our office and I will get back to you (contact details and hours of work are at the end of this Webpage). Although I don’t work over the school holidays other colleagues do, so there is always someone available if you need help and support at any time.
We are also available to children to discuss confidentially any health worries or concerns they may have. For example, they may have questions about body changes, growing up, a medical condition or leaving school. If you feel your child would benefit from this, please give us a ring and we will make sure that we get to see them. We aim to listen and to help young people to keep themselves safe, and to help ensure their experience in school is a happy one.
GROWING UP AND MOVING ON
We all know that “growing up is hard to do”, but for children with additional needs it can be even more confusing, and a challenging time for everyone. We support school staff in their delivery of the PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) curriculum when requested, and occasionally we may work with individual children around specific worries or issues they may have around body changes and growing up. For some young people, this may include working with families and school staff to support young people to manage these potentially sensitive issues at home.
We also support young people as they approach school leaving age, to ensure that their health needs continue to be met when they enter adulthood at 18 years old. We have joint responsibility with Adult services for children’s health care needs until they leave school.
Health promotion is another key role of the school’s nursing team. Phoenix staff conduct lessons that promote healthy lifestyles as part of the curriculum, for example around healthy eating and exercise, and we support and participate in these when requested. We also facilitate Health Promotion sessions in school on a number of topics, for example on effective hand-washing (‘infection control’).
Occasionally we work with children individually or in small groups around particular needs, for example personal care/ hygiene, to promote children’s independence and understanding of the importance of keeping clean and tidy. Children who are to be immunised may participate in a session about having injections in school, to help prepare them for their injections.
MEDICATION AND HELPING CHILDREN TO STAY WELL
This is what most people associate us with - giving medication at lunch times! As well as giving the medication though, we also make sure that the medication in school is clearly and correctly labelled, and properly stored and recorded to ensure the highest levels of safety. We also ensure that we have your written consent to give medication to your child, that it is given correctly, that it does not run out and is in date at all times.
We keep up-to-date with your child’s on-going health conditions and ensure they are managed adequately, and school staff alert us to any unexpected change in your child’s presentation and at these times we offer support and advice to school to ensure your child receives the most appropriate medical care.
As part of our Public Health role, we undertake vaccination programmes in school for flu, HPV (Human Papillomavirus), DipTet (Diptheria, Tetanus and Polio) and Meningitis C.
We also offer advice around appropriate Infection Control measures to school, and when requested facilitate sessions to help educate children about germs and ways to prevent them from spreading.
Our Healthcare Support Workers ensure that there is adequate ‘disposable’ equipment in school to meet your child’s healthcare needs such as syringes, giving sets etc. Our nurses arrange for more specialist equipment such as oxygen and feed pumps to come into school, and that the right supplies are provided to each child.
Our team plays a key role in ensuring your child is growing and developing at an appropriate rate, and our Heathcare Assistant and Healthcare Support Workers weigh and measure children regularly where this is required. This information is passed on to Consultant Community Paediatricians, Dieticians and other professionals as appropriate.
By working closely with Community Paediatricians and attending clinics in school, we keep up-to-date with your child’s changing health needs. We liaise closely with our other Health colleagues, for example Physiotherapists, Dieticians, Speech and Language Therapists, Wheelchair Services and other Specialist Children’s Services to promote your child’s health. We ensure that everyone including your GP is kept up-to-date on your child’s health and well-being, and pass this information to school staff where appropriate.
We support the ‘TAC’ (Team Around the Child) method of working, and advocate for your child’s needs at meetings. We liaise with colleagues from other services where appropriate, and like all professionals we have a role to play in keeping your child safe from harm.
In order that we can undertake specific work to help and support your child or family, with interventions that are within our remit but are not routine, school staff and other professionals may need to refer your child to our service using a Referral Form but would need your permission to do so. Examples of the kinds of support we offer that would need a Referral Form would be a request for information and advice around housing, or help for your child to manage menstruation in school.
School staff training is a key role for the SNSN team, to ensure that they can safely manage your child’s health condition while they are in school’s care. Training is offered on an annual rolling programme and follows the latest Best Practice guidelines to help ensure staff are up-to-date with current knowledge.
We offer all schools annual ‘awareness’ sessions on a number of topics, for example epilepsy, asthma and administration of medication that include current ‘best practice’ guidance and legislation. In addition, we offer practical training to those members of the school staff team who are directly involved in giving care. Where necessary, we also arrange health training from specialist health professionals for certain conditions. Examples of this are suction training, some specialist equipment training, and ‘awareness’ sessions of more uncommon conditions and medical interventions.
We also provide training to staff in some of the ‘respite’ services, including Shared Carers and workers on play schemes run by the local Authority. We may also visit you at home to help you to manage your child’s health needs yourselves, for example to show you how to change your child’s gastrostomy ‘button’.
We greatly welcome your comments, views and suggestions on the service you receive from us. Your feedback is a valuable source of information to help ensure we are meeting the needs of children and are supporting families in the best way. You can leave feedback on our team online at any time via the NHS ‘Friends and Families Test’. Just log onto Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s feedback website on http://bdct.iwgc.net and enter our Team’s code: 1074. Alternatively, you can leave written feedback in our Suggestions’ Box at school or via post to our office address below.