Why Children’s Charities Need Nurses Like You
The UK is in the midst of a nursing crisis, are there are no signs of it slowing any time soon. According to the Royal College of Nursing, we’re short nearly 40,000 nurses, and that shortage is likely to grow to 70,000 within the next five years.
But what does this mean for children’s charities? When a child is sick, a caring and skilled nurse can really make the difference in how they experience their treatment. Sickness can be traumatic, and nurses who work with children’s charities are there to minimise that trauma and keep spirits up. But according to Nursing in Practice, a quarter of palliative child nurses are due to hit retirement age in the next five years, which means the nursing shortage could get even worse.
While the impact of this nursing shortage on the NHS is often highlighted by the media, the effect that a lack of qualified nurses has on children’s charities across the UK hasn’t been as much a part of the conversation.
So if you’re a nurse and are thinking of venturing into the charity space, working for a children’s charity might be the right route forward for you.
The job of a paediatric charity nurse
A paediatric charity nurse has many of the same duties as a children’s nurse on an NHS ward. This can include:
- Administering drugs
- Explaining treatment options
- Providing emotional and educational support to relatives
- Carrying out observations
- Completing medical notes
But two of the most important aspects of the job are assessing a child’s medical condition and keeping their loved ones informed at every stage. It’s not uncommon for nurses to identify secondary health issues when assessing a child; especially as their immune systems may not in fighting form.
When checking the condition of a child’s heart, you may identify a heart murmur. As a medical professional, you know that most heart murmurs in children are harmless and go away over time. But the majority of parents aren’t aware of these facts. That’s why communication is so important. You need to ensure the family or carer is kept abreast of all health concerns, as well as whether or not they may be benign.
Depending on the type of children’s charity that you work for, you may be asked to take on additional roles. Take, for example, the paediatric nurses at WellChild. They are responsible for:
- Taking care of the hospital to home transition
- Visiting patients and providing care in their own homes
- Training parents and carers
- Arranging respite care for carers
Jodi Betts, a former Roald Dahl children’s nurse, says that one of the best parts of her job was providing the families of poorly children with reassurance. She did this by opening up communications, providing her phone number and email address so that they could contact her with any questions they had. It was even common for her to speak to a child’s school and to sit down with sick children to help their parents explain why they couldn’t partake in a particular activity, such as football.
Embrace opportunities to be the best nurse you can be for your patient group and for yourself.
Jodi Betts, former Roald Dahl children’s nurse
Improving paediatric health care
There are 49,000 children living in the UK with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness. Despite this, research from UK hospices reveals that fewer than 8,000 children have had their palliative care needs assessed. And a lot of this comes down to the shortage of paediatric nurses in children’s charities. Nursing Times reports that just 18% of nurses have received training in palliative care. As a result, there just aren’t enough trained nurses to carry out this essential role.
Not only will becoming a nurse for a charity benefit children in need, but it will improve their general health in the years to come. Together for Short Lives advises that there is a 10% shortage of nurses in the children’s palliative care voluntary sector. This has led to a decrease in the amount of support provided to the families of sick children; cuts have been made to respite care, beds have been closed, continuity care has declined. And this only hinders the health of the poorly child.
The benefits of working as a paediatric nurse in the charity sector
Paediatric nurses benefit from knowing that they’ve helped a sick child in need regardless of whether they work for the NHS or in the charity sector. However, there tends to be bigger rewards all round in the charity sector.
Most charities have improved their pay bands to bring them into line with the NHS, in a bid to encourage nurses to work for them. Nursing jobs in the charity sector can also be beneficial for your work-life balance. It’s common practice in the NHS for nurses to work 12-hour shifts. But, just 50% of nurses state that this is preferable, according to the Royal College of Nursing Institute. In contrast, nursing jobs in the charity sector are much more flexible, meaning you can work around your family’s needs and requirements while benefiting the lives of others.
You’ll be providing great care and health support to children who are most in need. Sadly, the shortage of nurses in the country is putting significant strain on the charity sector and the nurses who are working hard to cater to a growing number of ill children. With this in mind, qualified nurses should seriously consider checking out our current vacancies while other individuals should think about training and qualifying as a paediatric nurse so that they can help the most vulnerable children in the country.
Ready to make a difference? Find out what nursing positions are available in the charity sector today.