schoolnurseSchool nurses will play a bigger and more important role in improving the health of children and young people, according to plans announced by the children’s Health Minister, Dr Dan Poulter.

England’s 1,200 school nurses and their teams will lead a new, strengthened and more tailored school nursing service which means better care and support for children, including those with disabilities and complex emotional needs.

The Health Minister has also pledged that the best performing school nurses will be rewarded for their work through a new, national school nurse award.

Child carers turn trainers
For the first time ever, children who are carers will themselves train school nurses in how to provide the best support for young carers. As part of the plans, school nurses will:
• Get more training to make sure their skills are constantly improved and updated so they can support children with more complex health needs;
• Become local leaders in children’s health and be given the expertise to improve what school nurses offer to children. This could mean being available outside of school hours; and
• Be champions for children who care for others to make sure they get the right support. Young carers themselves will train school nurses so they know exactly what support to provide.

Giving young carers a voice
Dr Poulter said: “School nurses play a crucial role in improving health and supporting young people. I want them to have an even bigger role and provide even better support for more young people with different health needs and conditions.

“Young carers are often under incredible pressure both at home and at school. School nurses can do a lot to give young carers a voice and help ease that pressure. Our plans will help them do just that."

Hidden cause of school health problems
There are as many as 700,000 young carers in the UK, and their caring responsibilities – which could be as intense as 50 hours a week – are often a hidden cause of health problems, bullying, truancy and not doing well at school. 

Surveys of young carers suggest that school staff can sometimes be unaware that children are carers, and school nurses are in a perfect position to provide the right support that young carers need to help them be happier and do better at school.

Dr Moira Fraser, Director of Policy and Research at Carers Trust said:“Over 60 per cent of young carers are bullied in schools while nearly 30 per cent miss school or experience educational difficulties – often due to their caring responsibilities. These are worrying numbers and so we are heartened at the government’s plans to strengthen the role of school nurses in supporting young carers.

“School nurses are ideally positioned to play a pivotal role in the lives of young people. They are well placed to identify young carers earlier and implement preventative support while reducing the negative impact on the health and wellbeing of young carers by initiating support for the whole family.”

Three hundred young people who have offered to become 'school nurse champions' and help shape the way the School Nursing Vision is implemented have also been trained and are beginning their work.

Posted 16/04/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com