THE quality of life for many of King’s Mill Hospital’s youngest and most poorly patients and their families has been vastly improved since the introduction of a new role within children’s services.
Experienced nurses Sue Hancock and Esther Jenkinson have made a huge difference to many young lives since transferring into the new role of children’s complex needs and palliative care nurse specialists several months ago.
Their position ensures that children with complex needs receive treatment at home wherever possible, which can avoid a hospital stay altogether or reduce the number of bed days they need to spend in hospital by more than half.
The new position also reduces the need for continuous day visits to hospital for children and parents - and a further benefit is releasing bed space for those children who do require hospitalisation and cannot be cared for at home.
As some children would have previously been in hospital for up to three weeks at a time, this has a major impact on improving their quality of life and easing the pressure on their parents.
Mansfield parents Amanda and David Munt have a three-year-old daughter, Lillie May, who was born prematurely and they say they have benefitted hugely from the introduction of the new role.
“Esther and Sue’s support has been invaluable both inside and outside the hospital environment,” said Amanda.
“Lillie May’s hospital visits are thankfully far less frequent now she can be given intravenous antibiotics in the comfort of her own home (instead of a 10-day hospital stay), as well as having regular blood tests and the portacath line into her chest flushed every four to five weeks.
“When Lillie May does have to be in hospital, we no longer need to be at her bedside 24 hours a day now we have the reassurance that staff are fully trained in tracheostomy care.
“Their commitment to providing the best care possible for Lillie has completely exceeded our expectations and we are truly grateful.”
Children with complex needs may have life-limiting or life-threatening conditions such as extreme cases of cerebral palsy, various degenerative syndromes or need to be specially fed by tube (gastrostomy).
Since their appointment, Esther and Sue have become fully trained in tracheostomy care themselves and also trained other ward staff so that a tracheostomy patient’s parents do not have to be present on the ward 24 hours a day when their child is admitted.
They are now training parents how to care for their child on discharge and even training staff from local special schools, so patients can be more fully involved in school life.
Helena Clements, paediatric consultant and service director for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Esther and Sue’s role has had a major impact on improving care for children with complex needs.
“Many children and their parents are benefitting from both their support and the procedures now being carried out at home to avoid hospital admissions.”