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Nurse offers new hope for seriously ill children in Derbyshire

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Seriously ill children and young people across Derbyshire will need to spend less time in hospital, thanks to a new children’s nurse from national children’s charity WellChild.

Derby’s first WellChild Nurse is being funded by a grant of £110,000 from Derbyshire Freemasons and will arrange and co-ordinate the home care that children, young people and their families need.

“This post allows for a more co-ordinated discharge and a central point of contact for questions and concerns”

Nina Heighington

This week is the official launch of the new WellChild Nurse post, held by Nina Heighington, who will be helping reduce the time children and young people across Derbyshire have to spend in hospital.

Ms Heighington will be based at the Derbyshire Children’s Hospital as the WellChild Pathway Coordinator for Children with Medical Complexity.

Through the “unique” post, the charity said she would support families by working closely with colleagues in the community, hospitals and other specialist centres to ensure the highest quality of care.

The grant from Derbyshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

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.

“Our target is for every seriously ill child or young person to have access to a WellChild Nurse”

Linda Partridge

Ms Heighington qualified in 2006 with a degree in children’s nursing from Birmingham University then worked on the general medical ward at Derbyshire Children’s hospital for 10 years.

More recently, she has worked as a discharge coordinator at Derby ensuring discharge is quick and efficient, managing patient flow.

She brings considerable expertise and a comprehensive understanding of the needs and challenges faced by the families with whom she will be working, said the charity.

Ms Heighington said: “I am proud of being a WellChild nurse and really looking forward to working with children with medical complexities and their families to ensure they receive the best possible care.

“This post allows for a more co-ordinated discharge and a central point of contact for questions and concerns before and once they get home,” she said.

She added: “Supporting families through a traumatic event and putting services in place is the tip of the iceberg, working with families to ensure they can make the most out of the resources and achieve a good quality of life as they transition from hospital is where a WellChild nurse role can really make a difference.”

Linda Partridge, WellChild’s director of programmes, said: “We’re very grateful to Derbyshire Freemasons for their generous grant.

“We’ve worked to make sure that the essential service provided by WellChild Nurses in regions of the UK have a long-reaching impact,” said Ms Partridge.

She added: “Our target is for every seriously ill child or young person to have access to a WellChild Nurse, and I am delighted that we have now been able to extend that support into Derby.”

“Our families now have a central resource to co-ordinate the care of their child”

Jo Watson

Jo Watson, lead murse at Derbyshire Children’s Hospital, said: “As Nina has settled into her new role as our WellChild Nurse, we have already seen enormous benefits for our children, young people and their families with complex needs.

“Our families now have a central resource to co-ordinate the care of their child and I have personally seen the positive impact this has had on individual families,” she said.

She added: “We look forward to Nina and her WellChild role continuing to develop to improve the care we provide in partnership with our children, young people and their families with complex needs.”

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, Belfast, Cambridge, Cardiff, Cumbria, Cornwall, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Hywel Dda in Wales, Kirklees, Liverpool, London, Leeds, Manchester, Oxford, Newcastle, Nottingham, Southampton, Sheffield, Walsall and West Sussex.

Further posts will be funded during this year. WellChild continues to fundraise to add to its team so that these children across the UK will benefit from its services.

WellChild/Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Nurse offers new hope for seriously ill children in Derbyshire

Nina Heighington

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