A shire county was drafting a local specification for school nursing and appointed PHAST to canvass the views of partners and stakeholders, including children and young people themselves, to inform that work.
School nurses had transferred from the NHS to local government a few months before this project. The numbers of school nurses had dwindled over the last few years, and their workload in supporting children and young people within the social care system had greatly grown which meant all other work was excluded.
What was the problem?
The school nursing support to children and young people within the social care system had become such a substantial task and took up all the time of all available school nurses who were unable to carry out any other roles, including needs assessment, and preventive and health promoting work. Schools and families were very unhappy about this and requested a rebalancing of the work of school nurses so that they would deliver the full remit of their roles as in the Government Vision and Call to Action for school nursing published in 2012.
How did PHAST help?
PHAST agreed with the county to seek the views of partners and stakeholders covering children and young people; families; schools; relevant people from within local government including key public health and social work personnel; some key NHS personnel, school nurses; and some interested third sector bodies, eg Healthwatch.
PHAST used a range of communication channels to increase the likelihood that children and young people including seldom heard groups could respond to the questions being asked, and to do so in ways with which they were comfortable. PHAST conducted semi-structured interviews with over 30 key individuals nominated by the commissioning team to inform an the following: an online survey; focus groups with support for participants; an online interactive format that allowed people to join the focus groups remotely and participate as if onsite.
The outcome was a rich set of views with useful messages on which the county could act as part of their aim of re-positioning the school nurses to have a clear role with all parts of their work supported, and with an evidenced bsuiness case for hiring some school nurses to bring the team to planned establishment levels.
What was the Impact?
The County has drafted a business case and a draft specification for school nurses. The PHAST work was key to persuading the local government senior team to invest in school nurses at a time when other services have suffered notable reductions.