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Traci Benton, Head of Healthcare and Advanced Nurse Practitioner, tells us what is it like to work in secure estates.

At Aldine House, I oversee the multidisciplinary team which comprises of nurses, speech and language therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

I provide the primary care for all the young people who come to stay here. This involves clinical assessment, undifferentiated diagnosis, and treatment of a huge variety of minor illnesses, injuries, and long-term health conditions. Also the continuing evaluation and provision of individual physical and mental healthcare throughout a young person’s stay.

I meet with and assess every young person admitted to Aldine using the RCPCH’s Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool (CHAT) within my physical health and substance misuse specialty, whilst my SLT and psychology colleagues assess the neuro-disability and mental health aspects. This information is used to create an in-depth, psychologically-informed and person-centred formulation for each young person.

We are working with some of society’s most vulnerable children. Invariably their life experiences leading to admission means they are very mistrusting of professionals. We have to really work on gaining their trust, as well as also working to build their health literacy skills and the knowledge and confidence to advocate for themselves.

All great nursing care is holistic care, but in the secure children’s setting, we take this holistic approach to a whole new level as the young people in our care simply could not and would not engage with if we did it differently.

We have made huge efforts to ensure the Healthcare Team is embedded within the fantastic residential staff at Aldine, who have really welcomed us onboard. We have been involved in and contributed to, the children’s school lessons, enrichment sessions, and their day-to-day lives.

I can’t think of another job where I’ve been able to (legitimately!) sit and watch a bit of TV with a patient; play a boardgame or some pool, or have a kick-about and a joke outside, all in order to establish trust. I could never have imagined how much utter joy and satisfaction I could feel out of all the “small wins” in this role, let alone the big ones!