The Collaborative Approach

Elaine Cobbold, Perioperative Practitioner and Nikki Thiemicke, Paediatric Outreach Nurse based in Paediatric HDU from the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospital Trust, tell us the story behind their shared passion and the wonderful events that they are hosting, which they hope will encourage collaboration and best practice across the country in an area of healthcare where there can be so much at stake…

What makes you passionate about your work?

[Elaine] Providing the best possible care for children and their families. I work in a theatre environment and it is vitally important that children are well prepared and cared for in the perioperative phase.  We endeavour to make that journey as smooth as possible for children and their families, to ensure that their experience of a potentially scary event is as positive as possible. Doing so successfully can have a huge beneficial impact on future hospital encounters.  My colleague Nikki is a Paediatric Outreach Nurse based in HDU – there is a significant overlap between our departments and we wanted to promote this inter-departmental working within the recent study day.

How was the recent event?

[Elaine] In our hospital the vast majority of surgery is performed as elective day cases, with a smaller number of cases requiring either ward stays or HDU admission.   For that reason it made sense to tie these two subject areas together as what happens in theatre will have an impact on the care needed on the wards.  However, we are aware that a lot of children’s services take place in general hospital settings so the day itself was primarily aimed at theatres nurses, ODPs and ward nurses caring for children in settings that may not be in dedicated children’s hospitals. These events are also an excellent way for healthcare workers to meet and discuss local practices. Allied healthcare professions do not always facilitate this kind of networking and communication.

The day was exceptionally well attended (65 delegates from around the country) and the feedback we received was very positive. The day itself consisted of topics such as ‘The Paediatric Airway’, ‘Managing Common Emergencies in the Perioperative Setting’, ‘Pharmacology of Commonly Used Drugs’, ‘Assessment and Management of Acute Pain in Children and Young People’ and ‘Minimising Perioperative Distress’. Our speakers came from nursing, pharmacy, theatre and play therapy backgrounds and all had current and relevant paediatric experience.

I would like to thank all of the companies that supported us financially, by exhibiting at our event and spending time talking with speakers and candidates.

What prompted you to hold this type of event?

[Elaine] There is quite a lack of this kind of training available for paediatric nurses and ODPs. We also made the event free for students from any trust. The feedback we received very much spoke to the reasons that we set the event up in the first place i.e. there was a gap in the market, great for networking, sharing of local practices and learning from other centres and departments. The students who attended all said that the specific focus of the day was particularly useful as it complemented their studies and placements. The funds raised from the day itself are then used to send our own staff on relevant training days. With budget constraints, this type of education funding becomes ever more important and it is gratifying to be able to support this.

Do you plan to run more events?

[Elaine] I am already planning to run a ‘Difficult Airway Management’ day in our simulation centre. By utilising the simulation trainers and kit, I hope to be able to run a much more practical day and one very specifically aimed at staff working in paediatric anaesthetics and recovery. In terms of the day we just ran, this is the second one in two years and whilst I would like to think that we will run more in the future, I did feel that each of the subjects we covered could easily fill a study day on their own; so maybe that is something that we will look to develop in the future. One of the great things about doing this is the collaboration between myself and Nikki. We have a lot of crossover and it was great to be able to promote a multi-disciplinary team approach through our organisation.

How do you see things developing within your trust?

[Nikki] There will be enhanced staff training in relation to caring for the child and young person with an epidural for post-operative pain management. Each member of nursing staff will then have to work through specific competencies to ensure improved delivery of care. The child and their family are at the centre of any recommendations and the goal to provide them with the best care, as close to their home as possible.

Now, we are using less epidural analgesia, so to try and get all the nursing staff competent is challenging.  We are using continuous local anaesthetic infusion far more frequently with great success and may hope to promote their use in neonatal surgery in the near future.

By Sam Newman

More articles, stories, inspiration and innovation can be sent straight to your email by registering here.