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Community Health Nursing in Primary Schools

The Nurses in Schools program commenced in 2017 because of a local school Principal experiencing a high number of children with absences due to head lice. He approached the Department of Health and Human Services and requested support.

Latrobe Community Health Service (LCHS) was requested to help the school out. From here a nurse in school was identified as being of value. This was not only to look at the identification and treatment of head lice at that time, but has evolved into a program that addresses health disparities in the school community within Latrobe Valley.

In 2018 and 2021 the Latrobe Health Assembly supported the expansion of the Community Health Nurses in School Program (CHNiPS), initially to 4 schools and later to 7 schools. The expansion was based on the level of disadvantage in the schools and the program will fund 7 schools until 31st December 2022. In the second expansion of the program, LCHS was also funded for a Coordinator.

An evaluation of the program delivery to date was finalised in September 2020. The evaluator recommended CHNiPS continue in schools, and at the same time, the program and support infrastructure strengthened so that CHNiPS can reach its full potential in addressing the health needs of children and families living in disadvantaged communities. The 5 recommendations are:

  1. Funding and investment in the CHNiPS program should continue;
  2. The gap between CHNiPS program objectives and service delivery should be bridged through a focus on minimum service delivery requirements;
  3. Nurse outreach data collection and the data collection system should be improved and adapted to measure minimum service delivery requirements;
  4. There should be greater co-design and collaboration between LCHS and schools in the implementation of the CHNiPS program; and
  5. Process alignment, while a challenge beyond just CHNiPS, should be discussed by all stakeholders.
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