Cardiff and Vale University Health Board is pleased to announce they will be the first Health Board in Wales to launch a health messaging app for young people in a bid to give them direct access to expert healthcare advice and support from their school nurses.
ChatHealth is a confidential SMS text messaging platform which is already used across many English Health Boards to facilitate ease of access to the school nursing service for young people aged 11-19 yrs.
The app, which will be rolled out to all High Schools across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan,
provides two-way communication for healthcare messages, anonymously if preferred, with the ability to use given names between the young person and their school nurse via SMS text messaging.
Sandra Dredge, a Senior Nurse who has been instrumental in designing the service said: “Young people are sometimes reluctant to speak face–to-face with school nurses about issues that are affecting them and this offers them a way to communicate in a safe, trusted environment.
“The information shared in the app between the school nurse and the young person is confidential, and school nursing staff will be available during school hours to discuss any health issues the young person may have.
“The system includes an automated response for when the school nurse is unavailable and allows information to be added, for example, a confidentiality statement, numbers for crisis intervention and health promotion information.
“The app can be tailored to suit the needs of the Health Board, for example, if there is an outbreak of measles in the area then we can let the young people know through the app.
“If the SMS text number is accessed out of school hours the young person’s messages will be available to the nurses the following school day.
“If there is concern regarding the safety of a young person, this would trigger our normal safeguarding protocols which would then be followed.
“School nursing staff are fully-trained in using the app prior to implementation and we have a team of 10 staff on rotation to answer queries from young people.
“We hope that the young people find the app a useful tool and we hope that if successful it could be rolled out to other areas such as our Looked After Children service.”
Meriel Jenney, Clinical Board Director of Children and Women’s Services at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said: “School nurses are often the first point of contact for young people seeking advice on a wide range of issues that may be affecting them.
“There can be a number of reasons why a young person might prefer not to speak to a nurse face-to-face in the school environment.
“Our aim is to provide a service that is quick and easy for young people to access and ChatHealth provides a great alternative to speaking to a school nurse face-to-face. It gives young people a voice to communicate confidentially via text messaging, with direct access to expert healthcare advice and support via their mobile phone or tablet.”