Use of technology is making a “massive difference” to school nursing, especially engaging with boys, according to the Department of Health’s director of nursing.
Professor Viv Bennett, who is also head of nursing at Public Health England, highlighted the efficacy of communications advances, such as texting, for helping nurses reach more schoolchildren.
“It’s about engaging with young people on their own terms”
She said: “One of the things that is making a massive difference to school nursing is technology.”
Professor Bennett said in some places nurses were in effect “doing the day job through using extended technologies”.
Prof Viv Bennett
“I was visiting a service the other day and they found that by using things a bit more invisible the number of boys contacting the service has doubled,” she told Nursing Times.
“The kids like it…they live with their phones,” she said. “As far as they’re concerned, healthcare interactions aren’t any different to any others. They want to make an appointment on their phone, they want to be able to get advice on their phone and contact someone they know.”
However, she noted that “spreading this amazing practice” should be in addition to demonstrating the value of the school nursing workforce to local authorities so they commission more staff.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter highlighted that boys were a “quite difficult” group to reach for healthcare interactions, compared to girls who were often more happy to express their feelings.
“It’s about engaging with young people on their own terms,” he said. “There are good examples of how school nurses are using technology to do that and engage in way that hasn’t been possible before.”
Dr Poulter and Professor Bennett were speaking with Nursing Times last month at a national public health nursing conference in Birmingham.