WellChild Children’s Nurses Linda McCarthy and Laurie Jack have begun their role as WellChild Respiratory Nurse Specialists based at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh (RHSCE).
Linda and Laurie are 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. They provide 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 Linda and Laurie remain on hand to help reduce the number of potential hospital readmissions which can be upsetting and disruptive to families.
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 18-month-old Rogan Millar from Perth. Rogan was born with a rare undiagnosed syndrome which means he is fed by a tube, has a tracheostomy and needs ventilation overnight and sometimes during the day. Rogan was very ill at birth and lived for the first ten months of his life in hospital. However, with the help of his WellChild Nurse, he was finally able to come home to his family just days before Christmas last year. Rogan’s WellChild Nurse trained his parents, Wayne and Rachel, in managing his tracheostomy on a day to day basis and what to do in an emergency as she visited them daily whilst they were in hospital, also helping to make sure the support needed was in place for them at home. Linda and Laurie now keep in touch with the family to monitor Rogan’s condition and support needs and to offer advice as required.
His father, Wayne Millar, said: “Rogan is doing really well at home now. Linda was fantastic in helping us coordinate everything needed to have him come home to us with the support he needs and it is such a comfort to know she is on the end of the phone whenever we have any concerns.”
Peter Campbell, Clinical Nurse Manager said: “We continue to see a growth in the numbers of children needing long term ventilation in this area and recognise the importance of helping these children stay at home with their families so they can have the same access to things like education as other children. Research shows that the best way to help families negotiating the range of services needed for children with complex medical needs is to a dedicated person to support them along the whole journey home to be on hand for support once they are there. This new WellChild Children’s Nurse role will be crucial in liaising and providing support for families as well as carers and healthcare professionals, particularly with the increasing need for training in the technology and other practical aspects of caring for a child or young person with complex care needs.”
Linda and Laurie bring a considerable amount of experience to the role. In the ten years prior to taking up this post Linda was a Paediatric Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialist and Laurie worked on a general medical ward at the RHSCE providing nursing care to children and families with long-tern medical and complex respiratory conditions.
Speaking about their new role Linda said: “We’re really looking forward to the opportunity provided by WellChild to keep developing and enhancing our existing service for children and families in this area and to be able to make a real difference to their lives.”
Laurie added: “We are also excited and proud to become part of the growing WellChild Nursing Team which will allow us to share knowledge and experience with other nurses providing similar services elsewhere and a chance to work together towards advancing the way specialised nursing care is provided.”
About the WellChild Nurse Programme
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.
WellChild’s pilot Children’s Nurse programme began in 2006, and its success has already resulted in the creation of posts in Ayrshire, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cumbria, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Hywel Dda in Wales, Kirklees, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Southampton, Walsall and West Sussex. A further four posts will be launched during this year.
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 into this part of Scotland.”
Find out more about WellChild Nurses