Meet the children’s Major Trauma Coordinators
When a patient is rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital with severe injuries, it’s the job of the Major Trauma Coordinators – Aimee, Jenni, and Nicky – to liaise with the huge amount of specialists involved in one patient’s recovery, while also providing a lifeline of support for the patients’ families. We sat down with Aimee and Jenni to find out more about their work with patients, families and their colleagues at the hospital.
Aimee, your background is in physiotherapy. How did you move across to your role as a Major Trauma Rehabilitation Co-Ordinator?
I spent around six years working as a physio for adults, much of that time in Australia. When I came back to the UK, I knew I wanted a new challenge and started working at Bristol Children’s Hospital. I started working in community care and helping children with really complex movement disorders. You’re constantly working with other healthcare professionals across a huge variety of specialisms and so moving to Major Trauma seemed like a really natural step.
Your role sounds really varied – could you explain what an average day looks like for you?
Each patient, their needs and their families are all unique. That means that no day is ever the same!
There are a couple of constants though; as soon as I get in I check for new Major Trauma patients who may have been admitted through our Emergency Department overnight and visit all our inpatients to see how they’ve been during the night. I’ll then liaise with the medical and therapy teams to decide the next steps of care and crucially, communicate this to the child and the family. A huge part of my role is making sure that the entire rehabilitation package we put together meets the needs of the whole family, from a physical to an emotional wellbeing point of view.
What kind of patients and injuries do you deal with?
We care for children who have got the most severe injuries, often across many different parts of their body. It could be anything from an open limb injury from a car accident, internal injuries from drowning or significant, life changing head injuries as result of falls, for example.
Tell us about the work with the community healthcare teams.
When a child leaves the hospital, our care does not stop immediately and various teams continue to support them. We work hard from the moment they’re rushing into the Resuscitation Area to ensure we have a fully comprehensive care package set up for them for the moment they walk out our doors.
A crucial aspect of this is ensuring that the child and their family feel as prepared and reassured as possible to go home. We work with a CBIT coordinator who helps children with this transitional period. It can actually be really difficult to return home after such a traumatic event and a long stay in hospital. It’s our job to be there for them.
What’s the best part of the job?
Many patients we care for have multiple injuries to various different parts of their bodies, which means each of those injuries has a team of specialists dedicated to making it better. I am so lucky to work alongside so many incredible teams and to help these poorly patients and their families as much as I can. It’s educational, challenging, and there is never a quiet day. I just love that.
As well as helping to establish a recovery plan for patients, a big part of your role falls within pastoral care, doesn’t it?
Absolutely. We try to take a holistic, family focused approach to the care we provide so that parents and siblings are as informed as possible. You also have to remember that quite often these families have witnessed the accidents, so it’s a hugely traumatic time for them and they need support.
Parents often say to us that they’re living in a nightmare. It’s our role to make sure we’re there for them as much as possible, sometimes referring them to the psychology team if we feel they need that extra helping hand.
How do you interact with families, and help provide the emotional and practical support they may need when going through the toughest of times?
We make sure they know that the families can contact us whenever they want to, whether its during their child’s stay in hospital or after they’ve gone home. Communication is so important, especially during what is likely the most stressful time of their lives. We do our best to make sure families have access to all the information they need to help them. Sibling support is also a big part of looking after families and it’s an area we’re focussing on more.
Tell us something about your job that a lot of people may not know.
Nicky and I do a lot of work on education, particularly with nurses; because we’re a Major Trauma Centre for the entire South West region, we’re often giving advice to lots of hospitals in the region and sometimes this involves study days – for nurses from across the entire of the region.
What are the different teams that you work with, both at the hospital and within the local community, to provide support for patients and families?
The list is almost endless. As children who have had major trauma injuries access clinical services from across the entire hospital and into the community.
What most people don’t realise is that it takes a huge team of people to make sure the child lives. Everybody’s contribution is vital - for example, the porter who rushes to collect the blood products for urgent transfusion, or the scrub nurse, who we couldn’t do the operation without, or the dietitians ensuring that the patient is getting the nutrients needed to recover.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Each family that we care for has been through an unimaginably distressing time. One of the best bits of our role is getting to call patients and families once they’ve been discharged. We want to make sure that families are setting into home life and it’s so rewarding hearing how well many of the children and families are getting on.
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