So, new month, new placement – or just getting into the swing of the new placement I should say.
School Nursing has been quite different to what I expected and different to the expectations of, I think, all of the people who have asked me about my placement so far. It does not resemble the traditional ‘nit nurse’ role any more and health promotion lessons about sex, drugs and alcohol are also a thing of the past for school nurses.
Like most areas in healthcare services today, staff are stretched thin so that only high priority areas can be focused upon. The vast majority of the school nursing workload consists of school-aged children under child protection plans or those needing support due to other risk factors (concerns being identified about children’s health/upbringing/safety but not severe enough to warrant being put under a child protection plan or being put into temporary care).
It seems a real loss to me, and the school nurses I am working alongside, that traditional school nursing roles of health promotion and building strong relationships with schools have not been able to continue. Ultimately, I suppose, this comes down to funding and identifying the vital areas that staff need to work in; with not enough staff in the team and therefore less overall time, this is what remains.
However, this placement is giving me a much better understanding of the safeguarding process. I am learning the differing levels of severity, with the most severe risk resulting in the child being a looked-after child in foster care. Contrary to many beliefs, this is a very infrequent occurrence and an absolute last resort for children unless they are in immediate danger. This option is obviously extremely distressing for a child and highly expensive to fund. Before the situation gets to this stage, the child would have been on a child protection plan that is not making any progress or alternatively not being complied with by the parent. A child protection plan is a plan of what will be done by members of the family and multi-disciplinary team to improve the child and family situation. People usually involved in reviewing and maintaining progress for the family are social care, school nursing and education teams.
I am enjoying the community aspect of school nursing. I especially like the teamworking that is prevalent, despite nurses carrying out visits away from their team for a good proportion of their day. Ultimately however, I think I would enjoy more child contact in my future career; much of what I have experienced so far is inter-agency working and meeting with parents or carers. Only in monthly enuresis clinics, school drop-in sessions and health assessments for children in care or on child protection plans, has there been contact with children.
But as I have said before every placement is of value; something new is always learnt. Placements teach students what services are so that we may refer patients to them in the future – as well as preparing us for inter-agency working in the future.
Emma is a 2nd Year Child Nursing student at our Chelmsford campus. To keep up to date with Anglia Ruskin Faculty of Health, Social Care & Education, follow us on Twitter @FHSCEnews