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Liz Wilson - Senior Charge Nurse - NHS Ayrshire & Arran

Liz Wilson, Senior Charge Nurse, Paediatric Assessment Unit & Clinics, Crosshouse Hospital, Kilmarnock, NHS Ayrshire & Arran

Supporting Staff in Children's Services

How would you describe your current role?

I'm the Senior Charge Nurse for the Children's Assessment Unit, Clinics and Community at Crosshouse Hospital.  I also have line management responsibility for Specialist Nurses and the Paediatric Nurses in Accident & Emergency.

Can you give some background on your job and how it has changed since you've been in post?

Seven years ago NHS Ayrshire & Arran amalgamated the Children's Services at Ayr and Kilmarnock hospitals.  The Assessment Unit at Kilmarnock Hospital was developed at this time and I was part of the working group set up to look at changes before setting up the Assessment Unit.

The Assessment Unit is a 10 bedded unit and sees on average nineteen acute admissions per day.  This doesn't include outpatients or day cases who also attend and is separate from attendance at general or specialist clinics.  

What prompted you to participate in the training, "PsychoSocial Interventions in Children's Specialist Services"?

I already run a specialist clinic on bowel management to support children (and their parents) with problems such as constipation or soiling etc.  The original idea was for a nurse-led clinic but feedback from parents highlighted the need for doctors to be involved.

So now there is an initial joint consultation involving the child, parents, doctor and nurse.  I then take care of any follow up treatment and keep in contact.

Terri Carney, Consultant Clinical Psychologist at NHS Ayrshire & Arran gave me guidance on some aspects of working with patients at this clinic and encouraged me to attend the training course.

How long was the training and what format did it take?

Psycho Social Intervention in Children's Specialist Services is a 2 day course which took place at Kilmarnock Hospital and was led by Terri Carney.  Delivered face-to-face, in a very relaxed atmosphere, Terri covered a variety of techniques and solutions for working with children of different ages, varying health conditions (some of them chronic) and different levels of understanding in terms of communication skills.

The course focussed on certain techniques and how and when to apply them for best results.  Role playing was a key part of the training as were communication skills.

What did you like about the course?

I found the techniques on motivating people to do things and how to speak to patients very useful.  These were things I could apply on a daily basis in my clinics.

Quite often I am faced with children with low self esteem or patients and families who are demotivated because of the impact of the specific health condition.  I also work with children who may be socially isolated because of their condition or who may be at risk and/or are in foster care. 

As well as the two training days, there was also a subsequent Feedback Day or the option for an informal feedback session for anyone who could not attend.

I have also encouraged my own staff, Assistant Nurse Practitioners as well as Advanced Nurse Practitioners, to attend the course.  The techniques learned can be applied widely - not just by Paediatric Nurses - but also Diabetic Nurses and Cystic Fibrosis Nurses and other nurse-led Clinics.

What would you say has been the overall effect of the training received?

I would say that that the overall effect of the training has been better service as a result of successful treatment using the techniques I learned. 

I think the training should be rolled out across all health boards.  It is beneficial to doctors as well as nurses.

Treatment that works means patients' lives are improved and they can be discharged.  It makes financial sense too in as much as investment in staff training brings direct benefits to the service in terms of patient care, quality and cost effectiveness.