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Children’s Services plan to expand Carers Support Team to Seven day Service

27 June 2016, Sarah Newall

Getting the basics right means different things to different wards and departments but Children’s Services are certainly getting it right with their ever expanding Carers Support Team - with further plans for a seven day service.

Picture of Becky Platt, Matron for Children's ServicesThe Carers Support Team was set up by a Canadian mother, Suzanne Boon, whose daughter was suffering from chronic respiratory problems. She found herself far away from home on a ward for a prolonged period of time with no support on hand from friends or family.

When her daughter recovered she volunteered her time and worked with Consultant Paediatrician Dr Amanda Equi and the Matron for Children’s Services, Becky Platt, to set up a team of volunteers offering practical support to the parents of the children on the ward.

The volunteers are subject to the same governance and recruitment checks as ward staff and offer a range of practical support to parents and carers, including giving information and signposting and befriending for parents. Their work involves anything from sitting with a child while a parent nips to get a hot drink or has a shower to spending time with parents to sit and talk.

Matron for Children’s Services Becky Platt (above) said: “Their role is invaluable and they are a real part of our team. Among many other things, our volunteers are able to offer parents and carers help in getting ready for the ward round. We know that when carers are worried and sleep deprived they might not be thinking straight and a bit of time spent getting their thoughts in order is really helpful.”

“We want to ensure we are addressing the things that really matter to parents and children. Assisting them to prepare for the ward round helps with this; it means that we can make sure all their questions are answered.”

The ten-strong team currently works five days a week and the department is planning to recruit more volunteers and extend it to a seven-day service. Children's Services were awarded an overall rating of 'good' in last year’s Care Quality Commission inspection with a rating of outstanding in the area of caring. The inspectors reported that it was clear that children and their families were at the heart of care and decision-making and that staff put the needs of the child above all else. Of particular note was the many positive interactions between staff, patients and their families that were witnessed by the CQC. They said parents were treated with respect and compassion by the staff, revealed by results from the, “I Want Great Care survey” and the CQC’s survey of Children and Young People admitted to the ward. One parent told the CQC team, “The staff here really do go the extra mile. They really put themselves out to help”.

They also focused on the work of the Carer Support Team on Starfish ward - a 20-bed general paediatric ward caring for children and young people up to the age of 16 years. The ward cares for children with both medical and surgical conditions and also has two high dependency beds.

Matron for Children’s Services Becky Platt added: “We are continuing to do everything that was praised in the CQC inspection. I knew we deserved it at the time but it was truly overwhelming that it was acknowledged. The nurses and doctors genuinely care and I’m so glad all of our work here was recognised.

“Expanding the Carers Support Team is just one of the many things we are doing to ensure we nurture our children and their parents emotionally and socially as well as practically and clinically.”

Children's Services comprises a Children's Emergency Department, Starfish ward for unplanned and emergency admissions, a Neonatal Unit, Safari ward for children undergoing planned procedures including surgery, and Children's outpatient departments at Watford and Hemel Hempstead Hospitals.

For more information about our hospitals, visit www.westhertshospitals.nhs.uk. You can also join our 5,124 followers on Twitter (twitter.com/westhertsNHS) or find us on Facebook (facebook.com/westhertsNHS).


  1. For more information, please contact Sarah Newallat the Trust’s Communications department on telephone: 01923 436 280 or email: info@whht.nhs.uk. Out of hours, please call 07900 228 031.
  2. West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust is a large acute trust serving people from across Hertfordshire, north London and further afield. It operates from three sites at Watford, St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals and sees about 600,000 patients a year. We are one of the largest employers locally, with around 4,500 staff and volunteers.