As a lecturer with an increasing workload, my visits to clinical areas in recent years have become less frequent and have become a functional role of placement audit and problem solving. In an attempt to address this, I arranged to spend the day with a children’s community nursing team. Spending time in this clinical practice setting served several purposes. Firstly I wanted to learn more about the current role of the children’s community nurse and how it might develop in the future. At the university we are currently exploring ways to develop a new curriculum and so I wanted to ensure that children and young people and their health needs are accurately represented. I wanted to ensure that the knowledge and skills we include in our programmes are appropriate to meet the needs of the children, young people and families that we serve. Secondly, I wanted to develop my role with the team and build a stronger relationship between us both so that we can enjoy mutual understanding of roles that I hope will in turn help to inform our curriculum.
My last experience of working with a community children’s nursing team was back in 1997 as a student nurse, on placement with a very newly formed team. I went on to spend most of my nursing life in acute care and education and so it was important for me to begin to understand more about the current role and current service. I learned lots from my time with the team and loved getting out to meet to children and families again. So here are a few things that I learned:
Every single visit began with an introduction. I wasn’t surprised; it’s all I’ve ever known in children’s nursing. We just need to continue to ensure that it remains.
- Service Hours
The service is available 7 days a week from 8am until Midnight. Home visits and nurse led clinics mean that more than ever, we have to ensure our student nurses develop their independent clinical decision making skills.
The team are using an electronic patient records system. There were problems on the day accessing information, as the system was slow. Referrals were still being received via fax machine. It seems to me that this is an area where we desperately need to develop the use of technology. We also have to develop the digital/tech skills of our student nurses who will then be able to assist with the development of technology that will greatly enhance practice in the future.
- Health Promotion
Many of the visits were used to provide support and offer advice (in the hope of preventing further hospital admissions). Continuing to provide children and families with access to health information is clearly important, and we have to involve children and families in the development of this.
- Telephone communication
So much communication took place over the telephone with follow up calls and telephone clinics. Telephone communication training is definitely something we need to consider in our nursing programmes.
- Service appreciation
At every visit, children and families were grateful and thankful. They appeared to really value the service provided. Our children’s community nursing team certainly do a fantastic job and I hope that investment in services like this will assist with future service development.
Overall, I was pleased to learn that in university we are teaching clinical skills that match with those of the service. My time with the team did however help me to understand the problems faced by community nursing teams and see that they are great problem solvers. I now have several things to think about when I contribute to the development of out future CYP nursing curriculum.
I’d like to thank the children’s community nursing team for making me so welcome and giving me the opportunity and for inviting me to return. This is testament to the team’s commitment to ensuring future services meet the needs of children and families.