Medical staff launch pioneering project to support young patients
Medical staff based at UHS have launched a pioneering project to help support young patients with chronic medical conditions.
Patients aged 11 to 18 who require ongoing specialist care are now seen in dedicated clinics at Southampton General Hospital to help prepare them for the transition to adult services.
Led by Dr Arvind Nagra, a consultant paediatric nephrologist, staff have developed the Ready, Steady, Go programme to ensure youngsters have a better understanding of their conditions and treatment and are developing well personally, socially and emotionally.
During consultations, the medical team work towards equipping patients with the skills to make a successful transition to adult services, covering issues such as medical knowledge, independence, health, career options and lifestyle in the three phases.
Previously, these patients would often reach the end of their care under paediatric consultants and nurses and move to adult clinics under new medical teams with little preparation, leaving them feeling isolated and disinterested in their healthcare.
“This vulnerable age group has been overlooked for too long and that has led to them becoming disengaged with their health services, with many young people failing to attend appointments, regularly take medication or take an interest in their health in general,” said Dr Nagra.
“By introducing a three-stage transition process early on, we can begin to find out when these patients are, firstly, simply aware of their medical, personal and social development, then when they have a solid understanding and, finally, are confident enough to make the next step, not just in medical terms but in their lives as a whole.”
As part of the clinic weeks, which take place four times a year, staff transform children’s outpatients into a ‘young person-friendly’ environment, with DJs, live music and information on psychological support, sex education and careers advice.
“During these set weeks, departments are encouraged to focus on transition for those patients with long-term medical conditions and we have found that this also encourages medical professionals to adopt the programme as part of their routine clinical practice,” explained Tricia McGinnity, the project’s lead nurse.
The Southampton initiative is now being adopted at trusts across the UK following the recently-published Children and Young People’s Health Outcomes Forum report, which highlighted the importance of effective transition for young people in the NHS.
Dr Nagra added: “Transition is about making plans with young people about their care and not making plans for them and we are delighted our work is beginning to help more young people across the UK.”