Covid One Year On: Nurse predicts long-term impact on children due to missed milestones

Rosie Grenter

Rosie Grenter, lead nurse with North Somerset Community Paediatrics Team. - Credit: Sirona Health & Care

A lead nurse from North Somerset’s community paediatrics team has praised her ‘phenomenal’ staff for continuing to support families throughout the pandemic. 

Rosie Grenter, who has been a nurse for more than 20 years and worked in a number of different fields, said the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest challenge she has ever faced. 

When the Government announced the first lockdown, the community paediatrics team - which supports children and young people with autism spectrum disorders, complex learning disorders and medical conditions and neuro disabilities - had to quickly adapt its services to continue providing vital support to families in North Somerset. 

Rosie said: “Even after 20 years of nursing, I had a brief moment of ‘how do we deal with this?’ It was such a big learning curve, but the passion and dedication from the team has been phenomenal. 

!It’s really made me appreciate my team, the organisation I work for and the importance of the work we do with children and families. 

“We very quickly mobilised the team to use more digital platforms, using video conferencing. Teams have been absolutely amazing and really risen to the challenge, as have the families we support.  

“We didn’t stop. We carried on, we were here, coming in every day. We did a handful of face-to-face appointments to children really unwell and needed to be seen. We were working to ensure we delivered the best possible service.” 

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The role of the paediatric service, which is run by Sirona care & health, involves prevention, identification, assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support for children and young people with a wide range of complex medical conditions. 

Clinics are usually run from the Drove Road Child Development Centre in Weston, and The Barn in Clevedon, but the team quickly reverted to digital platforms to continue its work. 

Rosie said: “Families were facing extra challenges. Many were working from home while trying to educate their children.

"The support networks ordinarily available to families - such as after school activities and clubs, and relatives - weren’t there to rely on.  

“That’s been really hard for families and I think the social, emotional impact on how everyone has had to live has been really tough on a lot of families.” 

In the summer, the team began restoring all its services, with more and more face-to-face appointments. Staff use PPE, lateral flow testing twice a week and robust cleaning regimes to protect staff and families. 

Rosie added: “Families have been really grateful that we’ve still been delivering our services and it’s been phenomenal seeing children and young people again.   

“I think moving forward services need to be Covid resilient. The use of digital platforms has been the biggest learning curve. It gives families more say in the care that’s delivered and how they access the service.” 

Queen's Nurse award

Rosie was awarded the title of Queen's Nurse for her commitment to improving care. - Credit: Sirona Health & Care

Rosie was awarded the title of Queen’s Nurse status in July due to her commitment to improving care in the community. She now wants to provide more of a voice for children’s services in the sector. 

She said: “The impact of Covid on children and young people has been lost. There has been a big focus on adults and the social and emotional impact Covid has had.  

“There’s a longevity about it. We’re not necessarily going to see the full impact of that for some years to come – the impact of children missing key milestones like the first year of university and not being able to transition from primary to secondary school in the same way. 

“It’s not likely to have physical impact, but as we move forward collectively as services together, I think we need to have more focus on that, and how we might need to commission and provide services moving forward.  

“We are in a really good place to do that as we look at our children’s health offer in Sirona. We have got masses of opportunity to do really collaborative work.”