A charity that provides residential summer camps to children with serious illnesses and conditions is offering nursing students the opportunity to take part in a unique placement experience.
Chloe Corrigan is the first student nurse to embark on the charity initiative.
She told Nursing Times that her time with Over the Wall gave her a greater insight into supporting children with their conditions as part of their everyday lives outside of a hospital setting.
“It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done”
Over the Wall is a UK-based charity for children and young people with health challenges and disabilities, and their families, to engage in free summer camps.
The camps, run by nurses, doctors, paramedics and non-clinical volunteers, offer young people and their families a chance to get away from home and engage in fun activities around the UK.
Ms Corrigan, a third-year children’s nursing student at Northumbria University, applied for a placement opportunity with the charity after hearing about it during a study lecture.
Having embarked on the camp placement experience in the Midlands this summer, Ms Corrigan said she “absolutely loved it” and planned to go back as a volunteer nurse in the future.
During her week-long placement with the charity, she supported with medications and learned clinical skills that she might not have come across in an acute placement setting.
She was also taught special procedures in the case of an emergency and spent time with children during activities such as rock climbing, on zip wires and canoeing.
Ms Corrigan described how she enjoyed supporting children as part of their “normal” day-to-day life, as opposed to when they were going through a bad time or when particularly unwell in a hospital setting.
“The children were quite well for them. They had conditions but that was their normal life,” she noted.
The children went home “so much more confident” after the summer camp, she noted.
“You could see the difference in the children from when they first came till the last day,” she told Nursing Times. “It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”
This initiative comes at a time when placement accessibility issues continue to be a challenge for universities across the UK and as education leaders consider different placement opportunities that could be used, as reported by Nursing Times.
Over the Wall’s nursing placement opportunity was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, but the nursing team behind it now want to expand it and link in with more universities to help welcome more nursing students onto placements.
Kayleigh McGinty is a nursing coordinator at the charity and has been a children’s nurse for 10 years.
Ms McGinty has been leading the placement offer and told Nursing Times the aim was to “empower” students to do and learn as much as they can.
“For us, it is about giving them exposure to conditions they don’t see often,” she said.
She reiterated how the placement also gave nursing students the chance to experience care outside an acute setting.
Student nurses could also see how “the end goal” was not just to get patients out of hospital, “but to keep going forward and provide that quality of life”.
“For me, as a nurse, [that] is really important and something I really value in my profession,” added Ms McGinty.
As published this week in Nursing Times, a charity initiative in Wales is encouraging nursing students to support voluntary health organisations to improve patient care.
An article by Ann Thomas, a staff nurse at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, explores how the third sector is a key partner in supporting the delivery of health and care services across the UK, and the importance of engaging nursing students in this sector.