Supporting New WellChild role in Flintshire

The Steve Morgan Foundation is providing a three-year grant to help charity WellChild provide a nurse to train families in Wrexham and Flintshire to look after their children at home, rather than them needing to stay in hospital.

WellChild, the national charity for seriously ill children, has authorised the Children’s Nurse post at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in Flintshire, to be filled by Esther Bennington.

Through this unique post, Esther will support families by working closely with colleagues in the community, hospitals and other specialist centres to ensure the highest quality of care.

The Steve Morgan Foundation is providing a grant of £75,000 over three years to fund the role, with further contributions from The Moondance Foundation and The Waterloo Foundation.

“Since 2006, WellChild has built a network of 32 specialist paediatric nurses supporting children with long-term complex medical needs across the country,” said Ashley Lewis, trustee with the Steve Morgan Foundation.

“Their aim is to train untrained carers – parents and family – to be able to care for their children at home using specialist equipment, and deal with emergencies at home, rather than them have to stay in hospital.

“This comes from the belief that children will enjoy life as much as they can being cared for at home,  far better than if they were in hospital where parents and family members would need to drive long distances to visit.”

Ashley visited the Better At Home suite at Edge Hill University which shows parents how support can work in their home environment, including training on the equipment parents will need to use, including ventilators and other equipment for the treatment of heart conditions.

Esther was the WellChild Parent Trainer Nurse at Edge Hill University, and also Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, prior to the funding for this new post.

She said: “Being a WellChild nurse means the world to me. I enjoy the challenges that supporting children and young people with complex needs and their families brings – supporting them on their journey home, liaising with different teams or sign-posting them to agencies for support.”

In the first year Esther is expected to support a caseload of 27 children with complex medical conditions aged from birth to 18, which could increase to between 30 and 35 children as the role develops.

One child who is benefitting from the extended support WellChild has already enabled is eight-month-old Phoebe Parry from Wrexham who was born prematurely at 30 weeks and has an undiagnosed condition with significant health needs.

WellChild Nurse Esther was first introduced to the family about a month before Phoebe came home. Esther supported the family by helping with communications between all the teams involved with Phoebe, which was proving difficult without Esther’s help. She provided training to Phoebe’s parents and extended family, and helps source supplies for the family when needed. Esther also supports the family by attending appointments at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool with them. She has helped relieve stress for the family, she is always contactable.

Phoebe’s mother Zoe Henderson said: “Without Esther we wouldn’t be where we are today; with her knowledge and support our journey with Phoebe has become a lot easier and we are starting to see improvements in Phoebe.”

Tara Parker, WellChild’s Director of Programmes, said: “We have worked to make sure that the essential service now provided by WellChild Children’s Nurses in regions of the UK have a long-reaching impact. 

“Our target is for every seriously ill child or young person to have access to a WellChild Children’s Nurse, and I am delighted that we have now been able to extend that support into Flintshire.”

*New nurse Esther is pictured with young Phoebe and Mum Zoe, and Jane Harris, Director of Regional Grants with the Steve Morgan Foundation.

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