Derian House 25th anniversary: A nurturing clinical skills team
Looking after children with complex needs is a delicate operation which requires a lot of compassion and patience, as well as in-depth training.
From changing tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes and administering medication to lifting a child, there is a lot to learn.
Luckily, Debbie Lomax and Trish Clarkson, who are clinical educators at Derian House in Chorley, are there to ensure they get the job done.
The pair deliver in-house training for up to 70 nurses and provide additional support at the children’s hospice.
Debbie, 53, has been working at the hospice since it opened 25 years ago.
She says: “We have a lot more children coming in with complex needs and new technologies and equipment, such as tracheostomy machines, gastrostomy tubes etc which the team need to be able to use.
“We have simulation models and we are responsible for teaching and educating the staff.
“We do face to face teaching in either large groups or one-to one intensive training.
“We have staff with different backgrounds and qualifications we need to cater for.
“With different children coming in with various needs, we need to be ready for whatever they require.
“So our door is always open for nurses to come and received extra guidance.
“Delivering care to children and young people is a very rewarding part of the job.
“I adore the children, their families and the team here at Derian. We have a lovely group of staff and I am happy to be part of this close knit team. It is a privilege to be on a journey with them.
“From the minute I joined, I just fell in love with working here and I have never wanted to leave - there is nothing I want to do more.”
Trish, 58, joined 19 years ago. She says: “I was an adult nurse originally and went on secondment to a children’s ward in Blackburn. I developed a passion for palliative care and following an information visit at Derian House, I knew that was where I wanted to work. I had to wait two years for a vacancy and have never looked back.
“We have children with life threatening conditions so we have to be passionate about the care we give. Both Debbie and I are nurturers. We love working with the children, their parents, grandparents and siblings.
“I also get a lot of pleasure from seeing the nurses develop their skills to pass onto their colleagues. We have to be very reactive to the team and children. We can be called on at any minute to research new things and deliver new training.
“We are supported by a framework and all skills are monitored as the staff go through annual appraisals and development reviews, so their is continual professional development.
“We co-ordinate all training, making sure they have the relevant skills.”
The clinical skills team also trains student nurses based at University of Central Lancashire, Edge Hill University and University of Cumbria.
Trish adds: “We are a centre of excellence for the students and have had great feedback.
“Debbie looks after the students on placement, making sure they are placed with the right mentors.”
Derian House, which is celebrating 25 years, provides respite and palliative care for children with life threatening or limiting illnesses.
The care team also offers support to parents and the hospice has gradually introduced additional facilities and levels of care that would help ease the burden on parents, for example, offering them accommodation within the hospice.
To mark the charity’s 25th anniversary, it has launched a fund-raising pack to incorporate the number 25 in activities.
Derian House has also designed a cardboard money collection box which schools and families can collect from the hospice and start saving loose change.
For information on fund-raising, call 01257 271271.