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Supporting Children’s Health and Wellbeing

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’This is useful book for students of the Early Years Curricula’

Title: Supporting Children’s Health and Wellbeing

Author: Jackie Musgrave

Publisher: Sage Publishing

Reviewer: Lynda Sibson MSc RGN RSCN NP Dip, CTHE, Stroke Telemedicine Manager

What was it like?

This is a 204 page paperback book published in 2017 by Jackie Musgrave, whose academic credentials are as a senior lecturer for Early Childhood (professional practice) degree at the University of Worcester. The author has a clinical background as a Registered Sick Children’s Nurse and a practice nurse in the West Midlands. The concept of the book evolved from her post-doctorate work in practitioners developing and supporting children in a range of health conditions.

What were the highlights?

Throughout the book, there are a number of Reflection boxes encouraging the reader to consider issues raised in the chapters. Case Studies also highlight real-life cases (from health care professionals and families) to apply some of the theoretical points discussed.

Strengths & weaknesses:

This book, comprising of twelve chapters ranges in topic from the more traditional aspects of child health, for example common childhood infections and diseases, chronic conditions and their impact on the child and family though to contemporary aspects of health policy. Clear and succinct aims and objectives are outlined at the beginning of each chapter, thus allowing the reader to read individual chapters as required. Each Chapter lists useful Further Reading with a helpful Bibliography and Index and the end of the book.

The Chapters:

Chapter 1 begins by defining health and wellbeing and reminding us, that as health care professionals, a child’s health is everyone’s responsibility, with a focus on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory as applied the child health.

Chapter 2 reviews the historical perspective of child health, appraising the health and social issues that have influenced children’s health and development. There is also a useful Table summarising the timeline of events influencing children’s wellbeing health since the 19th century; particularly useful for perhaps the younger student/reader.

Chapter 3 focuses on central government policy and how this has impacted family life and children’s health and wellbeing over the years. This is explored within the concept of specific disease and the overarching clinical guidelines from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Chapter 4 emphasises the importance of early intervention and collaborative work, reviewing the professional roles and multiagency working; arguably key to ensuring a comprehensive approach to the care of younger children and their families.

Chapter 5 further develops the concept of implementing many of the services available to children and their families, and includes information in relation to working with parents and importantly, looking after yourself as a practitioner, which is essential particularly when working with this vulnerable group in our society.

Chapter 6 spotlights the mental health aspect of wellbeing, specifically in relation to social and emotional implications, not just of working with children and young people, but also with their families and supporting parenting and parents themselves.

Chapter 7 centres on nutrition in childhood, reviewing some of the contemporary dietary issues such as weaning, whilst also highlighting the more traditional Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, an older theory (arguably standing the test of time) which ensures we consider that our most basic of needs are met for children to thrive.

Chapter 8 concentrates on a range of clinical issues, including commonly presenting infectious diseases and acutely ill children. Although a convenient Table outlines some of these illnesses, the addition of some appropriate clinical colour images would have been useful to enable recognition of some diseases.

Chapter 9 follows with the chronic conditions affecting children – again with an associated Table outlining key signs and symptoms. However, the listing here of ‘anaphylaxis’ does seem a little incongruous in this particular Table; appearing a little out of place in a list of ‘chronic’ conditions.

Chapter 10 emphasises the child with complex medical needs, reviewing a range of life threatening and life-limiting conditions, arising from a range of congenital, acquired diseases and issues affecting premature babies. This chapter also contains some particularly useful Case Studies.

Chapter 11 centres on the very difficult situation of coping with the death of a child and includes breaking the news of death to children, outlining Kübler-Ross’s bereavement theory to more practical issues. The author describes her own devastating personal experience of the sudden and unexpected death of her own daughter, Nicky, aged just 16 years (and to whom this book is dedicated). The author shares her thoughts and outlines the need for leadership, from the practical – arranging a funeral and legal issues – to informing others of the death.

Chapter 12 concludes this book and provides a useful synopsises, applying theory to practice, and generally appraises of the book. The chapter aims to develop the reader’s understanding of the clinical conditions referred to in earlier chapters and their management in holistic clinical practice.

Who should read it?

This is useful book for students of the Early Years Curricula. The book is easy to navigate and read – the chapters can be perused individually while encouraging reflection and critical thinking. The case studies inspire the students in apply theory to their clinical everyday practice. A useful addition, as mentioned earlier, would have been appropriate images to highlight specific disease and infections to aid understanding. However I would certainly recommend this valuable and thought-provoking book for students of child health.

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