Wicke, Dorothy, Coppin, Richard, Doorbar, Pat and Le May, Andrée
Every child matters, but what matters to them? Using teenagers' views to shape health services.
Journal of Children's and Young People's Nursing, 1, (3), .
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UK policy explicitly values children’s health, safety, achievement, contribution and economic wellbeing and emphasizes the need to ensure that ‘every child matters’ when services are designed and implemented (Department for Education and Skills, 2003). In order to find out how a new, school-based, ‘confidential health service’ might best address their needs we consulted 106 teenage pupils from two comprehensive secondary schools each providing education for children/young people from 11–16 years, and a pupil referral unit (PRU). The PRU provided education to a more disadvantaged group of students excluded, for both academic and behavioural reasons, from main stream school. The study design incorporated individual and group exercises and discussion. Qualitative data were generated and analysed thematically. Results were compared with 241 responses from a concurrent questionnaire survey, of similar content, of all pupils in one of the schools. The results suggest that the establishment of a confidential school-based health service is feasible and would be supported by its intended users. Its priority should be the provision of advice and support, rather than ‘treatments’, and its success would be dependent on a continuing guarantee of confidentiality in its dealings with pupils. The service worker would not necessarily require formal qualifications but should demonstrate strong listening and counselling skills. The extent to which young people were happy to participate in this project not only suggests the appropriateness of the methods used, but also that the pupils would be able and willing to continue to shape and support the new service. Three teenagers with recent school experience guided the research planning team to ensure a fit between the design of the study and the realities of fieldwork.
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