A nurse in Powys has been nominated for a Nursing Times award after launching a pioneering app which is helping children across Powys overcome bladder and bowel problems.
Jennifer Walsh – an Advanced Nurse Practitioner specialising in children and young people’s bladder and bowel dysfunction with Powys Teaching Health Board – has been shortlisted for the prestigious awards ceremony which takes place in October.
The app has also been highlighted by the Welsh Government’s Help Us Help You campaign as an example of digital transformation which will help the NHS recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The nurse from Pont Robert works with children across the county from newborn babies to 19-year-olds:
“Paediatric continence is an issue that is growing,” says Jennifer. “People don’t realise but we are looking at possibly one in 12 children who suffer with issues such as wetting, soiling or constipation. At the root of most of these issues are diet, lack of physical exercise, poor fluid intake and toilet phobia.”
The app is helping patients and parents to record information which can help Jennifer and other members of the team to make a diagnosis:
“We ask patients to measure their drinks and then their urine over a two-day period. This information helps us to understand what’s happening. In the past, we’ve used a paper diary but they often get lost and aren’t completed in real-time. The measurements were often inaccurate,” says Jennifer.
“We also need to educate people but there often isn’t time in the clinic environment. We need parents and patients to recognise their symptoms and understand how to self-manage,” she adds. “This is now all available on the app and families can link with others who are in the same situation via access to the ERIC charity embedded in the app.”
The app has been developed with funding upwards of £20,000 from the Welsh Health Hack – a Dragons’ Den-type collaboration between the Bevan Commission, Life Sciences Hub, MediWales, M-Sparc, the HS and the Enterprise Hub.
Healthcare professionals are brought together with digital, technical and data companies to solve challenges.
“We built the app with a firm called Aparito. You have to be a patient to have the app as it connects directly to a dashboard that clinicians can access. We have now put in a bid for extra funding because we want to look at the impact it’s having in Powys. It is saving the NHS time but it is also giving us reliable data,” adds Jennifer.
Carol Shillabeer, Chief Executive of Powys Teaching Health Board, said:
"Across the Health Board, we are seeing colleagues transforming and modernising services by embracing digital solutions. This app, which Jennifer has really driven forward, will help families across Powys and will also help us an organisation to work smarter."
If you are concerned about any of the issues in this story, please visit The Children’s Bladder and Bowel Charity at www.eric.org.uk. If you are still concerned, please contact your GP, health visitor or school nurse who can provide initial support or make a referral to the paediatric continence service.