Earlier this year, Dame Donna Kinnair, head of the Royal College of Nursing, called for a nurse to be present in every school to combat the impact of social inequality on children’s health. Her comments won support from many nursing and education leaders, and were also backed by Boris Johnson, who said during the spring that every school in the country needed a nurse to support the medical needs of students and staff.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve also been receiving similar feedback from our BSA members, as well as from non-boarding health and wellbeing professionals; greater support and guidance is needed for healthcare in education across all different workplaces and settings. All that we’ve seen and heard over the last year and a half has told us that healthcare in education can be bigger and better, and that more support needs to be made available, and that’s why we’ve launched the Health in Education Association (Hieda).
Our aim with Hieda is to provide training and support to members on all health and wellbeing matters and we are dedicated to the health promotion of all age groups. We will work with and for our members to share knowledge and best practice, while championing excellence in health and wellbeing provision in the workplace.
Starting from this September, we’ll be offering a comprehensive range of tailored CPD and training which will be delivered by experts who are leaders in their own specialist fields. Alongside advice and guidance for members, we’ll also be sharing pieces of research undertaken by members as examples of best practice. This will be crucial if Hieda is to be successful in its aim to raise standards in healthcare education, and we’ll also be supporting a variety of new studies too.
“All that we’ve seen over the last year and a half has told us that healthcare in education can be bigger and better.”
It’s important to remember that we’re not just focusing on health and wellbeing in boarding schools – every workplace has healthcare needs of some sort. All organisations will have someone who is responsible for first aid for example, but often there may be more knowledge required to manage other medical conditions, such as epilepsy, and of course, the thing everyone is talking about: mental health.
Providing guidance around mental health and wellbeing is going to be more important than ever as we begin to return to some sort of normality after the coronavirus pandemic, and this will clearly be one of Hieda’s main areas of focus. NHS research suggests that young people have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic. In 2017, it was estimated one in nine may have a mental health problem – now it’s thought to be one in six. Figures also indicate that the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges will grow from 59 to 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly three million children.
And this issue isn’t just confined to the UK. BSA Group is already an international organisation, with around 120 members in 37 countries worldwide, so we anticipate that Hieda members will come from across the globe, and we will have the necessary skills and expertise needed to support them.
“We will work with and for our members to share knowledge and best practice.”
One thing we’ve learned from launching the Safeguarding and Child Protection Association, which we founded in 2020, is that when we launch a dedicated association specifically for people who work in a particular role, we can reach them better. They become better informed, and they have a network that brings them together with others. They can share best practice; they can raise queries, and they can talk to their community. We believe the experience and reach we have within BSA Group, leaves us ideally placed to the same for healthcare education, and we hope Hieda will be of huge benefit for those who choose to join.