New resources developed by Oxford Brookes to support under pressure school nurses

School nursing graphic

Academics at Oxford Brookes University have secured over £7,000 in funding to develop new resources to support school nurses dealing with rising work pressures.

The resources are being developed in response to a joint study led by Oxford Brookes titled School Nursing in the Time of Covid which surveyed school nurses across the UK about their practices and experiences during the pandemic.

School nurses involved in the study said they were handling higher levels of referrals due to the shutdown or reduced capacity of other health and social care services. They said they found themselves working longer hours to deal with those referrals to ensure children and young people received the necessary care. At the same time, there was a significant shift towards online appointments. 

Dr Sarah Bekaert RN, Senior Lecturer in Child Health at Oxford Brookes, who led the research, said: “The study showed how during Covid the pressures on school nursing teams increased. These pressures persist post-pandemic, especially with the current cost of living crisis, and are affecting young people’s lives, school health teams and individual nurses.

“We’ve secured funding to develop two projects to support school nurses in managing the pressures they can experience in their job, to enable them to reflect on what they need in their professional practice going forward, and how best to engage with children and young people.” 

The first project is titled ‘Pause and Reflect: a restorative reflective resource’
which will give school nursing teams the opportunity to discuss their work with a facilitator, reflecting on three areas: working with children, young people and families; working with a multidisciplinary team; and working in school nursing teams. The resource is currently being piloted and will be launched in September at the Royal College of Nursing International Research Conference. 

The second project, led by Dr Georgia Cook, is a training resource looking at the pros and cons of different ways of engaging and communicating with children and young people. 

Dr Bekaert added: “We saw more online appointments during the pandemic. These are great for some young people but have their limitations. We have to consider digital poverty as not all children and young people have access to a smartphone, a computer or a tablet device. Home visits give an insight into home life, while meeting a child for a ‘walk and talk’ may be less intimidating than a home visit. 

“However, some children and young people might not want to be seen out walking with a school nurse. School nurses need to consider what is best for each of the children and young people referred to them.”

This resource is being developed in partnership with students on the Specialist Community and Public Health Nursing (Health Visiting and School Nursing) course at Oxford Brookes with consultative support from the School and the Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA).