Text-A-Nurse scheme to continue throughout summer holiday period

24/06/2021

Launched in February this year, a new initiative providing young people with direct, secure and confidential access to School Nursing Staff has been hailed as a success with a steady increase in user numbers over its first few months of operation.

The “Text-A-Nurse” scheme, which was launched across Northern Ireland but is operated locally by the Western Trust School Nursing Teams, is aimed at 11 to 19 year olds and will be available throughout the school holiday period.

The scheme was set up to provide young people across the Western Trust Geography with access to a secure and confidential text messaging service direct to a school nurse for advice and support.

Since the scheme was launched on 22nd February the ‘Text a Nurse’ service received 9 queries in February, growing to 78 in March and growing further to 125 in April.

Although still in its initial phase the growing number of children and young people utilising the service has provided the Western trust School Nursing team with much encouragement as to the long term potential of the scheme to provide ongoing support to local children and young people.

Speaking about the initial success of the service, Western Trust Team Leader School Nursing, Women and Children’s Services, Irene McSorley, said:

“Our School Nursing Team play a key role in working across education and health, and providing a link between school, home and the community across the Western Trust area.

“Their aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people and the introduction of the Text-A-Nurse service has added a new and very effective tool, which has been of particular use during these uncertain times.

“Text-a-Nurse provides a safe way for young people to reach out for help and to discuss their concerns and offers a way for young people to anonymously access health related advice, information and guidance at the touch of a button from a specially trained nurse.

“In the first three months it has been operating we have seen a steady increase in the number of contacts and level of engagement with children and young people from across the Western Trust area and we are confident that the numbers will grow even further as awareness of the service grows.”

“The service has proven to be of great help to young people across the Western Trust area – and we wanted also to ensure that those young people who may feel like using it are aware that it will be available right throughout the summer school holiday period.

“With children and young people away from school during this time it is perhaps one of the most important periods for them to know that confidential help and advice is available to them through the Text-A-Nurse service.”

The Text-a-Nurse scheme allows young people to ask for help or advice via text message in a way which is less embarrassing than asking in person and provides a medium that facilitates interaction through a non-judgemental, confidential and respectful way.

The text service allows young people to feel empowered to ask those questions that they otherwise wouldn’t have the confidence to ask.

The Text-A-Nurse service is a Trust-wide service manned by a team of Western Trust school nurses between the hours of 9am -5pm Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).

They will respond to all messages within 24 hours Monday – Friday and can be text on: 074 8063 5984