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Confident Johnathon loves school thanks to support from Virgin Care community nurses

12 year old Johnathon Lock, a student at Silverwood Campus can now enjoy the same school experiences as his friends, thanks to the Virgin Care Children’s Community Nursing (CNN) team in Wiltshire.

When Johnathon was younger, he was diagnosed with Charge Syndrome, meaning that various parts of his anatomy didn’t form correctly, such as his ears, eyes, heart, stomach, air way and oesophagus. Johnathon requires a tracheostomy (which he refers to as his ‘tracky’), and because there is no connection between his mouth and stomach he is fed through a gastronomy. He is also registered deaf and blind and has four major heart defects.

The team work to support children and young people like Johnathon by working directly with schools to ensure that these needs aren’t barriers that stop children from attending nurseries, schools and activity clubs.

The team have recently been working at Johnathon’s school, supporting and training staff who will be looking after Johnathon’s tracheostomy.

Tracy Abbott, Clinical Lead for the service, successfully secured funding from Virgin Care’s Feel the Difference Fund to purchase training mannequins, enabling the team to simulate real tracheostomy care for the school staff who will be looking after Johnathon’s tracheostomy. The Feel the Difference Fund is a £100,000 annual pot of money which gives grants to employees so they can implement new ideas which will have a positive impact on service users.

Tracy said, “School staff told us that they found this really useful and they now feel confident with all the necessary procedures prior to caring for a tracheostomy in real life. Having the training mannequins also meant we could simulate different scenarios around the school, so now staff feel confident that they could manage a variety of different situations.

“The mannequins have not only improved experience for the staff learning the new skills, but also for the CNN team as they were able to demonstrate the skills themselves and then observe the staff practicing before they carried them out on the young person.”

Most importantly, this training has given Johnathon confidence in the staff at his school that look after him as he knows they’ve had in-depth training using the mannequins, and gained a greater understanding in tracheostomy care before carrying out real-life care.

Leanne Lock, Johnathon’s Mum said, “Johnathon’s teachers have done amazingly and we’re so happy that Johnathon is able to have the same school experiences as his friends.

“It takes a long time to be medically trained on Johnathon’s requirements, which is why I’m so pleased that Virgin Care have not only been able to provide medical care at the school, but also whilst training the school staff thoroughly.”

Johnathon said, “I like my teachers looking after my tracky because they do my ties good, change the nose when it needs doing and if it drops on the floor they get me a new one.”

Johnathon is able to attend school and is enjoying all the same school experiences as his friends without the need for nurses to be at school with him.

Going forward, the CCN team will be getting lots of use out of the mannequins as they will be supporting at least four different children and young people into different environments in September 2021. It will mean that staff in these environments will get plenty of opportunities to practice new skills prior to meeting and getting to know the young people they will be supporting.

Val Scrase, Managing Director for Virgin Care in Bath and North East Somerset, Devon and Wiltshire said, “This is another wonderful example of how our Feel the Difference Fund can be used to create positive experiences for our service users.

“It’s fantastic to see that Johnathon is confident and content in his school surroundings, and I am so proud of the Wiltshire CNN team for always working tirelessly to provide the best support and outcomes possible.”

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