Wednesday 24 July 2024
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Nottingham nurse honoured in epic UK charity bike ride

A Nottingham nurse is one of 53 thanked as part of an epic UK-wide charity Tour of Appreciation.

Andrew Gould is cycling 3,500km to raise £50,000 for the WellChild charity – and stopping along the way to personally thank WellChild nurses for everything they do.

Rachel Gregory, a WellChild nurse at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, had tea and biscuits at the ready as she welcomed Andrew to the Queen’s Medical Centre.

WellChild supports children with long-term, complex health conditions, and offers three-year funded WellChild nursing posts to NHS Trusts, with Trusts taking over the funding after three years.

“I helped write the bid for the role and thought, actually, this is perfect with my community background and experience in intensive care,” said Rachel, who has been a long-term ventilation (LTV) WellChild nurse for 10 years. The Trust recognised the impact Rachel was having and boosted the team with two more nurses.

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Now a 17-strong multi-disciplinary LTV service, it covers Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire. It has around 120 children – and that caseload is growing.

“We offer complex community support and do as much as we can in a child’s home and community – the WellChild nurse post makes this possible,” said Rachel. “WellChild’s ethos is about keeping children at home; my role is to support them to stay well at home and allow them to live life to the fullest.

“Our families can struggle to get to the hospital, because the children’s needs are so complex,” said fellow NUH LTV nurse Sarah Walker. “They’ve got to park, they might have wheelchairs[GR(H1] , lots of equipment… it can be a real trek – going out to them takes that pressure off them.”

Rachel and her team cover patients until they are 18 years old. “We go on that journey with them, we see[GR(H2]  them from being a baby right through – we are really lucky,” said Sarah.

But how to transition their complex caseload to adult service is a challenge.

“Due to medical advances, children who wouldn’t have survived years ago are reaching adulthood,” said Rachel.

Rachel took Andrew to the WellChild Better at Home suite, one of only 10 in the UK thanks to a collaboration with the University of Nottingham. Here, parents and carers learn life-saving interventions they may need to make for their child, allowing a child to go home sooner.

“We do a staged discharge,” said Rachel. “Once the child is clinically stable, we walk around the grounds, then out to the park, slowly building the family’s confidence to go home.”

Andrew said: “The stories of the WellChild nurses and the families that they work with are an absolute inspiration – the skill, care and passion of these nurses is the beating heart of the WellChild charity.”

The team also offers training to schools. Rachel said: “Sometimes mainstream schools can be concerned initially. A year later, they’re talking about the child’s achievements rather than focusing on their health needs.”

Rachel has supported Sophie Cooper and her family for many years. Sophie has a complex range of conditions including Cerebral Palsy, Dystonia, Epilepsy, Scoliosis, Chronic Lung Disease and Gut Motility Disorder. She has a tracheostomy and is ventilated.

Sophie’s mum Leanne said: “One of the many brilliant things about having a WellChild nurse is they understand the importance of having families together at home and they understand the complexities of caring for a child with significant health care needs and they empathise with the impact that has on parents and siblings. They get it.”

Rachel added: “Our children are out there, with real complex health needs but we offer that specialist support – and they are living their lives.”

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