A specialist nursing post for seriously ill children with complex needs has been launched to cover South London and South East England.
Cat Jones has begun her role as WellChild complex needs nurse specialist, based at Variety Children’s Hospital.
“The discharge process in particular can generate many obstacles and barriers to overcome”
The new nursing role, which was officially launched on Friday, has been created by WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children.
Ms Jones will provide expert advice and practical and emotional support for children with exceptional health needs and their families.
Her job is to ensure the process of getting these children home from hospital is as smooth as possible and that they are well supported once home.
She will work closely with colleagues in the paediatric intensive care unit at Variety Children’s Hospital, which is run by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
In addition, she will be an advocate for the family and co-ordinate the wide range of professionals providing the specialist support each child might need, including assistance and knowledge on issues such as social services, housing and ongoing care in the community.
The charity said the new post would help improve the lives of the growing number of families in the area whose children require special support, for example with breathing and eating.
New children’s charity nurse for complex needs in South East
The new WellChild children’s nurse role will add specialist knowledge and understanding to the planning and management of the process for discharging children from PICU, it added.
Kathy Brennan, PICU matron at King’s College Hospital, said the new role would mean that more children could be discharged directly to their family home rather than via a hospice or other interim solution.
She said: “We recognize the importance of helping these children be at home as soon as it is medically appropriate, where they can have the same access to family and community life as other children and we are delighted to be working with WellChild to bring these benefits to many more families.”
Ms Jones started her career on a paediatric ward at a general hospital and then on a London paediatric critical care unit and, more recently, worked in the community as an outreach nurse for children with complex needs.
Speaking about her new role, she said: “Caring for a child with complex needs is incredibly challenging and the discharge process in particular can generate many obstacles and barriers to overcome.
“I’m really looking forward to working closely with the children and families and hope that my experience which spans critical care in hospital and working with these children in the community will help me to develop the discharge process further and facilitate as smooth a transition home as is possible,” she said.
The WellChild Nurses’ programme was established by the charity to address a gap in the provision of care and support for children with long-term serious illness and complex conditions.
“Our target is for every seriously ill child or young person to have access to a WellChild children’s nurse”
Linda Partridge, WellChild’s director of programmes, said the programme existed to meet the “growing need for help” for the thousands of children and families across the UK who lacked the necessary support in their transition from hospital to home.
“We have worked to make sure that the essential service provided by our growing network of WellChild children’s nurses has a long-reaching impact,” she said.
“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 the families cared for at the Variety Children’s Hospital with King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust,” she added.
The programme began in pilot form in 2006, and has so far resulted in posts in Ayrshire, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cumbria, Cornwall, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Hywel Dda in Wales, Kirklees, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Southampton, Walsall and West Sussex.
Earlier this month, the charity also launched a new post in Yorkshire. Further new posts will be launched later this year, it said.