A NATIONAL charity for seriously ill children, is funding a new WellChild Children’s Nurse post in Flintshire for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board.

The official launch of the new post, held by Esther Bennington, was made possible through grants from three foundations.

Esther will be helping children and young people across Flintshire and will be based at Catherine Gladstone House in Mancot.

She will support families by working closely with colleagues in the community, hospitals and other specialist centres to ensure the highest quality of care.

The WellChild Nurse posts seeks to support families at home to minimize the times they have to be admitted into hospital which can be upsetting for families.

Through this post they will receive close support in the community from a nurse who can help parents gain in confidence and guide them through difficult times.

The post has been made possible through grants from The Steve Morgan Foundation, The Moondance Foundation and The Waterloo Foundation.

Prior to this post Esther was WellChild Parent Trainer Nurse at Edge Hill University and Alder Hey Children’s Hospital where her role was to teach parents how to provide essential medical care for their children once they leave hospital.

Earlier she worked as a Sister in critical care and as a team leader with children and young people’s complex care packages working with technology dependent children.

She said: “Being a Wellchild Nurse means the world to me. I enjoy the challenges that supporting children and young people with complex needs and their families brings - supporting them on their journey home, liaising with different teams or sign-posting them to agencies for support.

“Being a Wellchild Nurse brings me the support of not only the network of Nurses but also the Family Tree and Helping Hands projects.

"I am so passionate about Wellchild and the work they do. I previously was Wellchild Parent Trainer in Alder Hey.”

The WellChild Nurses’ programme was established to address a clear gap in the provision of care and support for children with long-term serious illness and complex

conditions. In addition to keeping families together and benefitting a child’s development, it is often more cost efficient to care for a child at home than in hospital.

Ashley Lewis, trustee with the Steve Morgan Foundation who visited the Better At Home suite training facility at Edge Hill University during the application process, said: “The

Steve Morgan Foundation are very pleased to have provided a proportion of the funding for the WellChild Children’s Nurse post for Wrexham and Flintshire, and wish Esther all the very best in the new role,”

One child who is benefitting from the extended support WellChild has already enabled is eight month old Phoebe Parry from Wrexham who was born prematurely at 30 weeks and has an undiagnosed condition with significant health needs.

WellChild Nurse Esther was first introduced to the family about a month before Phoebe came home.

Esther supported the family by helping with communications between all the teams involved with Phoebe, which was proving difficult without Esther’s help.

She provided training to Phoebe’s parents and extended family, and helps source supplies for the family when needed. Esther also supports the family by attending appointments at Alder Hey hospital

in Liverpool with them. She has helped relieve stress for the family, she is always contactable.

Phoebe’s mother Zoe Henderson said: “Without Esther we wouldn’t be where we are today; with her knowledge and support our journey with Phoebe has become a lot easier and we are starting to see improvements in Phoebe.”

Esther’s manager Patrick Howells, said: “The impact of the Wellchild nurse for complex case discharges has been significant in improving the quality of care provided to highly vulnerable children and young people due to their complex medical needs."

WellChild’s pilot Children’s Nurse programme began in 2006, and its success has already resulted in the creation of posts across the UK.

Tara Parker, WellChild’s Director of Programmes, said: "Our target is for every seriously ill child or young person to have access to a WellChild Children’s Nurse, and I am delighted that we have now been able to extend that support into Flintshire.”

For further information about WellChild’s work please see www.wellchild.org.uk