Paula Brooke (right) with George and Rachel Burton.

A new scheme supporting seriously ill children on the Isle of Wight has been launched at St Mary’s Hospital.

The WellChild Children’s Nurse aims to reduce the time children have to spend in hospital by arranging and coordinating the care they need at home – as well as providing specialist advice and emotional and other practical support for the whole family.

It is funded by national charity WellChild, as well as healthcare company GSK.

Paula Brooke with George and Rachel Burton.

Paula Brooke has taken up the role as children’s nurse and will work closely with colleagues across the hospital, in the ambulance, community and mental health services as well as specialist centres.

Paula, a qualified children’s nurse with 21 years’ experience on the Island, last worked as a Senior Staff nurse on the Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), developing an outreach service to support families through the process from hospital to home.

She says she is relishing her new job:

“I am enjoying the challenge of this new role, meeting new families and introducing the benefits of having a Wellchild nurse.

“Through my role, with my prior knowledge of hospital and community teams, I will aim to make the process of hospital discharge more streamlined and coordinated for families with children with complex care needs.

“As a key worker for these families I can offer nursing care at home and liaise with other professionals, reducing the need for hospital readmissions.

“I have signposted families to the Wellchild family tree for peer support and made links with Wellchild nurses in local hospitals to share experience. I will also support the respite service to deliver much needed rest and recuperation.”

One child who is benefitting from the new scheme on the Island is George Burton who was born extremely prematurely and has a condition called pharyngeolaryngo tracheobronchomalacia.

He needs a tracheostomy to breathe and is fed through a tube. Since his birth George has already been supported by two WellChild Nurses.

George’s mother Rachel praised the service – and Paula:

“We wouldn’t be a complete family without Paula’s help.

“She has supported us so much, coming out to help when I’m unsure on something, she will bring out my supplies if I can’t get to the hospital.

“She is always at the end of the phone to help, she will also take the stress away from me if carers need sorting out, such as changing hours or days. I can’t thank her enough.”

The WellChild Nurses’ programme was established to address a clear gap in the
provision of care and support for children with long-term serious illness and complex
conditions.

In addition to keeping families together and benefitting a child’s development,
it is often more cost efficient to care for a child at home than in hospital.

WellChild’s pilot Children’s Nurse programme began in 2006, and its success has
already resulted in the creation of posts across the UK.