The need to maintain the Community Children’s Nurse Specialist practitioner qualification and for it to be underpinned by specialists standards
It is essential that practitioners have access to education programs that are underpinned by the specialist knowledge and skills demanded by the unique role of a CCN.
Children’s nursing is unique. From birth to young adulthood children undergo significant changes in their anatomy, physiology, pathology and cognitive development. As practitioners we develop the foundations of providing nursing care across the age span, recognising the child as an individual within the family unit, by undertaking specialised children’s nursing education programs. The NMC has recognised the necessity for preparing nurses with the unique skills and knowledge to provide care for children. It would therefore seem logical that the specialist status of Community Children’s Nursing should continue to equip practitioners with advanced-level education that addresses the specialised needs of providing nursing care to children in the community.
I have worked as a Community Children’s Nurse since 2001 within Greater Glasgow and Clyde. The majority of my career as a CCN has been as a team leader for the CCN team, and latterly for both the CCN team and iCare, a respite service for children with exceptionally complex health needs. The Specialist Practitioner Qualification was pivotal in ensuring I have the knowledge and skills to lead and develop CCN services. The qualification was instrumental in ensuring that I can manage change through flexibility, innovation and strategic leadership. It also enabled the development of advanced decision-making skills which are essential for advanced specialised practice.
The specialist practice experience and theoretical learning of the SPQ provided the advanced clinical skills, knowledge and expertise that I required as a practitioner to deliver seamless, high-quality, holistic care for children with a range of complex, long-term acute conditions in a community setting. Through my career, CCN caseloads have changed with a significant caseload increase of children with complex and exceptional health needs. These children are now surviving longer and require complex medical technologies and care provided by parents at home.
The SQN advanced my knowledge of the management of children with complex needs, life-limiting conditions and specialist care requirements. It developed the expert knowledge and skills that I required as a practitioner to assess, plan and review the continuing care and transitional processes for this group of children and their families. This cohort of children have a multitude of professionals involved in their care, so the leadership elements of the program were essential in developing my skills as a practitioner to coordinate multidisciplinary teams, to embrace the role of the lead professional in providing care for children at home and other community settings, and to coordinate the transition of children to adult services.
For this group of children repeated and unplanned hospital admissions are significantly increased. The SPQ CCN provides practitioners with the knowledge and skills to reduce and prevent unplanned hospital admissions and to work in partnership with the child, family and multidisciplinary team and other agencies to maintain the care of the child at home.
Undertaking the SPQ has facilitated my ability to critically analyse and evaluate both policy and practice. It has honed my skills in using the information to critically assess, evaluate and disseminate the evidence base for children’s community nursing. It has enabled me to take a critical approach to the nursing care of children in the community, with a strong emphasis on providing holistic, evidence-based care with the child firmly in the centre. The course also provided the foundation in the application of population-level health and wellbeing initiatives, and the use of appropriate outcome measures to evidence the effective use of community nursing services. All this has been essential in my role as a team leader in the development of services for children and families.
The SPQ enabled the development of comprehensive knowledge and understanding of health assessment from a multi-professional and interagency perspective across both health, social care and education. Central to this is empowerment and working in partnership with the child, young person and their family in assessment, decision making, planning implementation and evaluation processes ensuring the child is at the centre of the planned care. The underpinning knowledge base gained from the SPQ aligned with the core principles of GIRFEC and was fundamental in GIRFEC implementation.
The SPQ advanced my knowledge in child protection policy and practice, assessment of risk and working in multiagency teams across professional boundaries. A central tenant of SPQ was implementing a child-centred and family-centred approach and its application in the safeguarding and protection of children and young people. As a CCN working within Greater Glasgow this has been essential as a practitioner and a team leader in ensuring safe and effective care for children and families.
The SQN qualification has provided an in-depth understanding that I have needed as a team leader to lead on innovation and change. It enabled an understanding of primary and community care structures and services in the context of policy implementation and development. The elements of the course which encouraged the in-depth exploration of issues in primary and community care for children has ensured that as a team leader I continue to explore these issues and their impact on service delivery for children and families and that I can critically assess the resources needed for the implementation and evaluation of service developments at both local and national levels. Undertaking the program has been instrumental in building confidence in my ability to participate and effectively contribute to strategic groups at local and national levels in the development of policies, protocols and services.
Over the trajectory of my career, while still in practice, I have held an Associate Lecturer post with the University of South Wales where I provided academic support for Scottish students undertaking the University of South Wales online BSC (hons)/MSC Specialist Practitioner Community Children’s Nursing as well as a seconded post as Associate Lecturer Secondment (part-time) for the BSC (hons)/MSC Specialist Practitioner Community Children’s Nursing course at Glasgow Caledonian University. In both these roles I have supported students in a number of areas:
- To develop specialist knowledge and clinical expertise, within the complex and changing context of caring for, and working with, children, young people and their families in community settings.
- To gain confidence in lone working and making autonomous decisions, and to develop skills in caseload management and resource utilisation.
- To work safely and effectively in a community setting, with children, families, multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams.
- To gain an understanding of the complexities of safeguarding babies, children and young people in the community.
- To understand the complexities of policy and the political processes in relation to the development and provision of health care for children.
I have also held an external examiner post with Glamorgan University in which I ensured that the quality and content of the Children’s SPQ facilitated the development of advanced specialist practitioners who has the skills and knowledge required for this unique role.