The past few months for everyone have been a particularly challenging and worrying time.
As parents and families of children who have an ongoing respiratory and ventilation need you have all done a fantastic job following the shielding advice and keeping you and your child fit and well. We are so pleased to say that there have been no admissions to hospital or evidence of positive coronavirus tests amongst our Long Term Ventilation (LTV) population here in Nottingham and across our region. Speaking to other LTV colleagues this is the picture from across the UK.
‘New’ shielding advice
Over the past few days the Government and the Royal College of Paediatrics have published guidance about the next stages of relaxing the shielding advice and lockdown and we wanted to share with you our thoughts and advice about how to interpret and incorporate this latest advice into your everyday life.
Coronavirus has not gone away but the prevalence in the community has reduced and appears to be reducing on a daily basis. We are going to have to wait and see what happens over the next few weeks and months as businesses reopen and people start getting out and about more and mixing with other people.
To see data and information regarding cases in your area please see here.
Our team supports a growing number of children who have ongoing respiratory and ventilation needs. We have reviewed the background of all families under OUR care in the light of recent guidance and have come to the decision that there are no children on our caseload now that we would advise to continue to fully shield.
We are confident that the time has come to encourage children and their families to leave their home and spend time outdoors, following the social distancing guidelines. Our advice would be to choose where you spend your time outside wisely and minimise the risk of mixing with people from outside of your household or your family/ care bubble. In essence it is about being sensible and not taking your child and family to busy places where the risk of contracting the virus or being to socially distance is increased.
Key advice remains good regular handwashing, social distancing where possible and using face coverings if socially distancing outside of the home is difficult to maintain.
Return to school?
A key decision is to decide when to send your children back to school. For some children there is no option than to wait until September but for some of our children they are returning to school over the next few weeks. We have been working with some schools looking at what considerations and adaptations need to be made to allow children receiving ventilation to return to school safely for all concerned. Long term ventilation is considered an aerosol generating procedure so if your child receives ventilation or chest clearance measure including cough assist commonly during the day at school we are keen to work with schools to discuss what measures and precautions may be needed. We are happy for them to contact us directly.
If you child does not routinely need ventilation or chest clearance measures during the day at school then the socially distancing measures and precautions that schools are implementing for all pupils are appropriate for your child and their siblings. We would suggest that any child returning from school changes their clothes and have a wash as they return from school.
Return to work?
Careful and considerate decisions also need to be made about parents and family members returning to work. Our advice has been to talk to your employer about measures they have put in place to ensure social distancing in the workplace and what PPE or precautions they have available. You can further reduce the very small risk when you return home from work by changing clothes and showering before you mix with your child and family.
Individual families will make their own decisions regarding shielding, returning to school and work and with allowing people into the family home including wider family members, friends and care support. We realise that these decisions are difficult and we are able to discuss these with you. You will be well advised to make choices that ensure national guidance in terms of social distancing and infection control measures (handwashing, face coverings, PPE) are strictly followed.
Your LTV team
As a team we have been busy throughout the pandemic, albeit working in very different ways. We are now reintroducing the more ‘routine’ aspects of our service and continue home visits and home sleep studies. For home visits we are wearing full PPE to protect you and your family, as well as us and our other patients and families.
We continue with weekly LTV clinics. The majority of these are videoconsultations which work really well. We have loved seeing children and their families at home and the positive stories and experiences of what everyone has been up to during lockdown! We are also now able to conduct more face to face consultations at the hospital as clinically indicated. There are measures in place to minimise any risk and allay concerns of patients visiting the hospital.
Our closing message is we want to say is thank you for the past few months, we have been astounded by the resilience and positivity of our families despite the uncertainty and worry. Stay safe.
Please continue to contact us via our office number – 0115 9249924 ext 82207 or email LTVteam@nuh.nhs.uk if you require any further information or guidance.
The LTV Team