Child and young person with complex needs

Special schools

Specialist schools provide education for students with special education needs. The schools utilise a variety of teaching methods to meet the individual needs of children and are flexible in their approach to allow for any additional needs. Common special needs catered for within the schools are learning disabilities, communication disorders, emotional and behavioural disorders as well as physical disabilities such as Cerebral palsy and Muscular Dystrophy. Students with such specialist needs benefit greatly from the additional educational services offered within the specialist schools. Students will also have access to other health and social care professionals within the school such as nurses, physiotherapists and speech and language specialists.

The skills you will develop during a placement with the special school will vary greatly depending on the nature of the school you visit and can range from communication skills and behaviour management to care of a child with a feeding tube or requiring long-term ventilation. The special schools are very different to placements you will be familiar with and will provide a unique opportunity to develop your confidence in caring for children and young people with additional and complex health and social care needs.


Respite/short break services

Respite and short break units offer short breaks to families with a child or young person who has a disability or additional health need. Many of the respite units you will visit are small bungalows which can house around 4-8 children or young people at any one time. Children who are referred to respite units will have additional health needs of some sort and of varying degrees. Caring for such children r young people at home often places an enormous strain on the family unit, short break units offer some respite from this. Children who access these services can often have very complex health and social care needs and require constant supervision throughout the day and night.

The skills you will develop during a placement within a respite or short break provision will vary greatly depending upon the children or young people resident at the time of your placement. Skills learned can range from communication and behaviour management to administration of medicines and tube feeds to very complex health needs such as care of a child with an artificial airway requiring long-term ventilation.

Children’s hospices

Children’s hospices offer respite and short breaks to families with a child or young person who has a life threatening or life limiting condition, this means that the child or young person is unlikely to survive into adulthood. The hospice also provides emergency symptom management, where distressing symptoms will be managed by experts in paediatric palliative care, as well as end of life care and bereavement support. Children and young people with a life limiting or life threatening condition, such as Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, cancer, leukaemia as well as some other rare conditions, are referred to the children’s hospice at time of diagnosis and will remain under the care of the hospice until death or transition to adult services.

The children’s hospice is often perceived as a sad place for those who have not visited, however, it is often a place of smiles and laughter while the expert health and social care staff work hard to make special memories for the short and precious lives of the children and young people under their care.

The skills you will learn at the hospice include communication, tube feeding, administration of medicines, symptom management, end of life
care among many, many more.

Community children’s nurses

Community children’s nurses are children’s nurses with qualifications or experience in the community setting. They work closely with children’s wards, health visitors, midwives and GP’s. They visit families in their own homes where children have extra health needs such as long-term conditions, disability or sometimes following an acute illness or surgery. Some community children’s nurses are focused on a speciality such as diabetes or oncology whilst others offer a more generic service. Community children’s nurses provide clinical care or supervise parents and families giving care. They provide ongoing support to the child and family, playing a key role in bringing together relevant local services to help families with continuing complex needs.


Key learning opportunities:

This setting will provide a wide range of opportunities for the student to complete the learning criteria across all the domains.

The student will have the opportunity to develop his/her communication skills to a high level in order to promote therapeutic, reciprocal relationships with families.

The student will develop skills in holistic assessment, family-centred care planning, evaluation of care and health promotion.

The student will learn about how long-term conditions, illness and disability affect family life, child development and milestones.

The student will be working in a multi-agency arena and may have the opportunity to explore the role of other community professionals.

These may include; school nurses, specialist nurses, speech therapists, children’s centre workers and professionals from other community services that are used by children and families.