Parents of children and young people with exceptional health needs in Greater London and beyond are receiving the extra support they need with the official launch this week of a new nursing role at Royal Brompton Hospital created by WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children.
WellChild Children’s Nurse, Katy Merritt, has begun her role as WellChild Long Term Ventilated Discharge Pathway Nurse working with children who have serious problems breathing to support them to be together at home with their families. The post was created in response to research findings funded by WellChild. This highlighted the importance of focusing on the emotional wellbeing of families who really benefit from having someone alongside them to explain the complicated future their children face as well as helping teach parents and carers how to use the specialist equipment, such as ventilators, needed to look after their children.
As part of Royal Brompton’s Hospital to Home Paediatric LTV service, Katy is working closely with colleagues in the community, hospital and other specialist centres to improve the lives of the growing number of families in the area whose children have serious illness and complex conditions requiring long-term ventilation. She provides practical and emotional support to get children out of hospital to be together with their families at home and well connected to local services. Once home Katy keeps in touch to provide advice to families and teams. The Hospital to Home service is currently working with families to find out what additional support is needed once they leave hospital.
One child who has already benefitted from this extended nursing support from WellChild, which was made possible through a grant from ITV’s Text Santa, is one-year-old Saiguru Purushothaman who suffered spinal cord contusion during a traumatic birth which left him requiring a tracheostomy. His mother, Prathipa Elango said:
“It is a real lifeline to have regular contact with Katy who is so supportive and helps us sort out issues we may have as well as explaining next steps for Saiguru at each stage. “
Ruth Wakeman, Advanced Practitioner (Paediatric Respiratory) Children’s Long Term Ventilation Service said:
“The move from hospital to home can be a difficult and uncertain time for families whose children require long term ventilation. The WellChild Children’s Nurse can help to establish bonds which sometimes become fractured in these times and will make sure that the whole discharge process is safe and achieved as quickly as possible. Ultimately we want to make sure the growing number of children requiring long term ventilation can be where they can grow, develop and be nurtured with the same access as other children to family life and things like education.”
Speaking about her new role as a WellChild Children’s Nurse Katy said:
“I feel very passionate about delivering the best possible care to children going home on Long Term Ventilation and their families. I hope that being a WellChild Nurse will allow me to make a very positive difference to these families on what is an extremely difficult journey.”
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.
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 to this group of children in London and the South East.”
WellChild continues to fundraise to add to its team so that these children across the United Kingdom will benefit from its services. Find out more about WellChild Children’s Nurses.