Children from Coley primary school have embarked on a year-long Junior Carer programme with the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Aligned to the national curriculum, the scheme aims to help widen their awareness of the huge range of roles available in the NHS and the many skills needed to make up and support one another as a staff team.
The junior carer initiative replicates ‘Mini Police’ started by Stan Gilmore, superintendent police commander for Reading Police. During their time with RBH, they will be assisting with a number of projects both in the hospital and in their school such as encouraging healthy eating amongst their peers, supporting mental wellbeing, good dental care and a better understanding of infection control such as hand washing.
With over 40 applications Sharon Herring, director of nursing for networked care and her patient experience team had a tough job whittling the applicants down to 25, who were then put through a tough interview process! The patient experience team were so impressed by their applications 16 children were offered a position including four ambassadors. Their first day in the hospital involved attending a special staff core induction and fitting them for their new uniforms.
Since then, the children have had a tour of the Emergency Department with lead nurse Ali Eatwell and staff nurse Andrew Hayden, went aboard an ambulance with members of South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) team, and met with Dr Hannah Johnson and learnt about dementia and its impact on patients and their carers.
Future sessions being planned will include hearing Steve McManus, chief executive talk about his ‘Back to the floor sessions with teams across the Trust’ and the many career opportunities available in the NHS.
Other opportunities will include empowering the children to learn Cardio pulmonary resuscitation in our simulation lab to give them the skills and confidence to try and save a life, presenting at the patient standing conference, and learning about the history of the hospital including a tour of the medical museum, old library and chapel.
Steve McManus, chief executive, said: “It’s a real honour to be working with the pupils at Coley Primary School. I’m looking forward to chatting with them further about the wide variety of roles available in the NHS and what might spark their interest.”
Sharon Herring said: “this has been one of the most rewarding projects that I have had the honour of being part of. The children are inspirational, extremely interested and so keen to learn how the hospital and staff work. I am looking forward to working with them for the remainder of this year and developing the programme further’
Coley Primary school added: “We are so proud to be part of this initiative. We are excited to embark on this journey working alongside the staff at The Royal Berkshire Hospital. We had an amazing day in A & E on our visit, so many people were so kind to have spent their time talking to the children. We all learnt such a lot, including the staff.”