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School nursing

Jean Rollings

Supporting emotional health and well-being of children and young people through resilient staff

Name: Jean Rollings

Job title: School Nurse Specialist Practitioner

Specialty: School Nursing 

Organisation: Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust  

What is the initiative and or project you are involved in? 

Children and young people are best supported by adults who are emotionally resilient. This includes professionals as well as parents/carers. Importantly, the wellbeing and resilience of health professionals has been linked to the delivery of safe, high quality care and an improved patient experience. Given these links it made sense to intervene and develop the positive coping skills of staff in our service.

What prompted you to do this work

The school nursing service recognises the how good emotional health of children and young people is intrinsic to their ability to learn, achieve and enjoy life and this is improved if children are cared for by resilient carers. The service has a robust pathway which includes workshops and FRIENDS groups across the age range of 4-19 years. These groups help children and young people to develop skills to improve their confidence, self-esteem and resilience. More recently the service introduced the adult programme ‘strong not tough’ to support parents and carers to develop resilience to in turn improve their support to their children. 

The aim of delivering the programme to staff in the School Nursing service was twofold, to increase their knowledge and skills to support the delivery of the children’s FRIENDS programme and improve their own resilience (FRIENDS).

How did you initiate the work? 

Staff were divided into four groups and each group was invited to attend five sessions lasting for two and a half hours on a fortnightly basis. Attendance was on voluntary basis however staff fully engaged.

What have the challenges to implementing the service/intervention been? And what has enabled the implementation of the service/intervention?

The barriers to our work were initially thought to be one of limited time commitment that the staff would potentially encounter due to caseload responsibilities and demanding work schedules. However, the sessions were programmed into everyone’s diary and regarded as protected time, this allowed worry free attendance.

The programme was originally designed for delivery to parents and required some slight modification to meet the needs of staff thus offering it as a training package alongside providing an intervention for their own wellbeing. 

The Nursery Nurses and Lead School Nurse are trained as trainers and group facilitators and the staff groups were led by the nursery nurse lead and Lead School Nurse. It was a concern that staff might feel uncomfortable with the familiarity of facilitators from within the service however this was not played out in practice.

Has the initiative or project made a difference to patients/service users and or staff? 

By far the most important aspect of this work has been the enthusiastic response from a great many of the team who attended our programme. Both professionally and personally this has been such a rewarding feature.

Brief examples of some of the comments from participants included:

  • “Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”
  • “I’m going to try to make positive thoughts a feature in my life from now onwards.”
  • “It was so good to get to know my colleagues.”
  • “I will use the strategies of challenging negative thoughts at home with my children.”

The sessions were evaluated using feedback forms. The top three learning aspects were ‘taking valuable time for me (mindfulness)’, ‘awareness of body signals/ how to cope with anxieties’, and ‘knowing that resilience can be learnt and become a normal feature of daily life’. Participants expressed that they enjoyed the sessions and felt able to share thoughts in a safe place. Improvements that were suggested that could be introduced were confined to location and room size.

Follow up conclusions and next steps: - What are the long-term aims for the work?

The adult resilience programme continues to be offered in the community setting to parents and carers and teenagers 16+ and receives very positive feedback from service users.

We have been approached by the speech and language therapy department to deliver the adult resilience programme to their workforce; this is currently in the planning stages and we have delivered the programme to Early Help workers in one of our localities.

References

FRIENDS 

CYP case studies

Children and young people: career stories and case studies