London’s deputy mayor, Victoria Borwick, paid tribute to Royal Brompton’s children’s intensive care teams when she visited the hospital on Wednesday (yesterday).
Invited to the hospital by intensive care consultant, Dr Gillian Halley, Baroness Borwick saw first-hand how a new training programme developed at Royal Brompton will enable babies with severe breathing difficulties to be cared for at home, with the back-up of fully trained staff in the community.
The new training programme spearheaded by the team at Royal Brompton, involves hands-on training along with an e-learning package, for hospital and community staff across the region as well as parents of children who need to be ventilated. This enables them to safely care for ventilated children and offers the practical support needed close to home.
Medical advances mean there are growing numbers of children with severe breathing difficulties, who can live happy and active lives with the support of technology to help them breathe. While previously such babies stayed in specialist intensive care units for many months, it is now widely recognised that with the appropriate care at home and in the community, they can thrive.
“To my mind this is a perfect example of what our specialist hospitals are for,” explained the deputy mayor. “Royal Brompton acts as an expert hub, providing teaching and practical skills to other hospitals around London and the South East, with the result that more and more children can benefit from the specialist knowledge needed to manage their complex needs. I was particularly impressed by the focus on helping parents and carers as early as possible so they don’t become overwhelmed by the technology, and don’t become so used to others taking care of everything, that they feel unable to take on the responsibility themselves. I have first-hand experience of the terror of taking a child home from a hospital environment which is so very safe. I only wish that when I was in that position, this amazing technology and support had been available.”
The new training programme uses face-to-face courses and simulation exercises to develop confidence, supported by interactive learning with a mixture of images, video and audio. The online resource can be accessed any time, anywhere. Children’s community nurses from across Surrey met Baroness Borwick and took part in an emergency simulation exercise as part of their training. The Royal Brompton team trained more than 580 people through face-to-face courses last year.
Dr Gillian Halley, paediatric intensive care consultant at Royal Brompton Hospital, said: “We know from experience that children on long term ventilation who are medically stable would prefer to be at home with their parents, and we have seen significant improvements in their health and general well being after hospital discharge. Where possible, they need to be in a home environment, enjoying the normal bedtimes, bath times and playtimes with their family.”
Jo Keating, senior physiotherapist, paediatric long term ventilation at Royal Brompton Hospital, added: “The new e-learning programme helps children to leave hospital and receive expert support at home. We were delighted to welcome Baroness Borwick so she could see how the training brings the expertise of our specialist paediatric respiratory department into the community.”
Jo Backshall, children's community nurse from Surrey Community Health said: “Having direct access to the teams at Royal Brompton along with e-learning support works extremely well. We have the opportunity to improve our skills and increase our confidence levels, which benefits those we care for.”
The Children’s Long Term Ventilation Service is offered by a multidisciplinary team including consultants, clinical nurse specialists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. They work throughout London and the South East providing clinical support staff and training to other London specialist children’s units, and paediatric intensive care units, high dependency units, premature baby units and children's hospices around the South East.