Recovering children's lives – our work in Bursledon House

In his latest blog entry Martin Stephens, the Trust's associate medical director for clinical effectiveness, talks about the work that takes place with children at Bursledon House.

Our work in Bursledon House

Southampton Children’s Hospital provides care for many different situations – emergency surgery, serious infections, following an accident.

A vital part of our childen’s hospital is the team at Bursledon House – they provide care for children aged 0 to 16 years whose physical and psychological needs are having a significant impact on their daily life, despite the best efforts of the child’s local team.

Their care is very special, combining medical and psychological treatments with educational support. They can often succeed where other treatments have not.  

Children are referred to the team at Bursledon House by specialists from around the area. When they arrive, an assessment is made and a treatment plan set up. The accommodation and setting is more like a home than a hospital and children stay during the week with a daily structure of school, mealtimes and family visits within an agreed care plan.

A wide range of health problems are treated at the unit, including chronic medical problems such as epilepsy and diabetes, where treatments don’t seem to be working and further assessment is required; chronic fatigue syndrome; medically unexplained symptoms; feeding problems; complex child protection issues with medical overlap as well as psychiatric conditions such as complex behaviour disorders, anxiety, severe school refusal and rehabilitation following acquired brain injury. 

Following a treatment programme at Bursledon House, care is transferred back to local services with discussion before discharge.

Just as with our surgical and other care, we want to know whether or not we are performing well for our children – we want to measure the outcomes.

This might seem a little harder for these complex health needs but we use a system called Goal Attainment Scoring (GAS) and the Children’s Global Assessment of functioning Score (C-GAS). These assess how well the children are doing and are widely used measures in healthcare.

To understand the results, if the ‘scores’ on GAS and C-GAS go up, it means the child is doing better, recovering to a more fully functioning life.

For 2011/12 the average score on CGAS of children arriving at the unit was just over 42, the average when they were able to go home was 60. This means children were able to do much better because of the care provided.

Over the same period on the GAS score, every child achieved at least one of their improvement goals. Of the 107 goals set for our 45 children, 98 were fully met (and on 61 goals the children did better than expected).

Dr Sheila Peters, our clinical lead, said: “Bursledon House is a very special place, held in high regard by clinicians around the region, and able to set children on the path to long-lasting functioning thanks to the close teamwork of nurses, therapists, doctors, psychologists and teachers.

“It is very rewarding  to see a child who came to us in a wheelchair having not attended school for sometime, or reluctant to go out of the house for various reasons, walking and laughing and taking part in everyday activities.”

It was no surprise to hear that the team was shortlisted for the Nursing Times team of the year and we are proud to make a difference to children’s lives – as well as their families.

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