Photo of Karen Jordan, Clinical team Leader of the Year finalist, Nursing Times Awards

Spectrum nurse shortlisted for national healthcare awards

A senior Spectrum nurse has been shortlisted as Nurse Leader of the Year at the Nursing Times Awards 2016.

Karen Jordan leads a small team of Wellbeing nurses as part of North Yorkshire Horizons, the substance misuse service for North Yorkshire.

She has 37 years of nursing experience and has pioneered a new approach to engage with vulnerable patients across the county, including embedding a new outreach nursing model which enabled staff to visit patients at home, in neutral locations and even out in the street.

Karen attending the Nursing Times judging panel in September 2016 and will join the other finalists to meet Prince Charles at Clarence House in October. The awards ceremony will be held in London in November.

Spectrum welcomes call to make sex education statutory in schools

Spectrum Community Health has welcomed the call by the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee to make relationship and sex education statutory in primary and secondary schools.

The call comes after the committee published a report in September on ‘Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools’. The report outlines some deeply concerning evidences such as 59% of girls and young women aged 13-21 said that they had faced some form of sexual harassment at school or college in 2014. This clearly indicates the dire need for high quality, age-appropriate relationships and sex education delivered by well-trained individuals.

Spectrum’s multi-disciplinary team of specialist practitioners, working with the secondary schools in Wakefield and Barnsley, already deliver high-quality Relationship and Sex Education (RSE). The team’s core objective is to develop young people’s social and emotional skills, enabling them to make positive choices and navigate risk by promoting emotional health, self-esteem and resilience.

Speaking about the programme, Spectrum’s RSE lead Andi Cope said:

“It is important for the groundwork to start in early childhood and then continue age appropriately throughout the child’s life. If children have high quality RSE throughout the stages then they should have a well-rounded ability to make healthy decisions and positive choices. They will develop an understanding of pressure and coercion, prejudice and discrimination and know how to respond, and have the resilience skills to deal with risk and set-backs at an earlier point in life.”

During 2015/16, 772 students who completed their RSE lessons had tremendous improvement in knowledge. At the beginning of the lesson only 8% could name all 6 contraception methods, after the lessons 94% could name all 6 contraception methods. Before the lesson only 3% could name a viral / bacterial sexually transmitted disease. After the lesson 93% could name a disease.

Themes that are covered in Spectrum’s RSE session include helping pupils understand the importance of friendship and to consider love and sexual relationships in this context, to consider different levels of intimacy and their consequences, to acknowledge the right not to have intimate relationships until ready and to acknowledge that being pressurised, manipulated or coerced to agree to something is not ‘consent’.

Pupils are also encouraged to learn about the law in relation to consent (including the legal age of consent for sexual activity, the legal definition of consent and the responsibility in law for the seeker of consent to ensure that consent has been given).

Spectrum’s RSE programme also covers the role of sex in the media and its impact on sexuality (including pornography and related sexual ethics such as negotiation, boundaries, respect, gender norms, sexual ‘norms’, trust, communication, pleasure, rights, empowerment, sexism and feminism).

STI awareness must improve

As part of Sexual Health Week, Spectrum is driving awareness surrounding two lesser-known STIs, gonorrhoea and syphilis, especially because they can be hard to identify. Roughly 1 in 10 men and half of women infected with gonorrhoea won’t experience any obvious symptoms, whilst symptoms of syphilis can be very mild and change over time.

Belinda Loftus, Spectrum’s Head of Sexual Health Services said, “Spectrum is encouraging people to get tested for STIs more frequently. Even if someone thinks they are fine, there is no harm in getting tested. It can be hard to spot whether you have an STI because symptoms of the infection might develop after months or years and in some cases they are so mild that they go unnoticed.”

According to a report published by Public Health England, most diagnoses of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and genital warts in 2015 were in people aged 15 to 24 years. The report also states that diagnosis of syphilis have increased 20%, whereas there has been an 11% rise in gonorrhoea diagnosis during the last year. Both of these infections are bacterial and can be passed on through oral, vaginal or anal sex. Most infections can be prevented by using condoms and getting tested is the only way to confirm if you have contracted an STI.

In the early stages syphilis can cause a painless, but highly infectious, sore on an infected person’s genitals or around the mouth and is treated effectively by antibiotic injections or tablets. The length of treatment depends on the stage of infection.

Many people who have gonorrhoea have no symptoms, but some women experience health problems from gonorrhoea including reduced fertility or increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. Gonorrhoea is usually treated with a short course of antibiotics.

Sexual Health Week 2016

Spectrum’s sexual health teams have been on the move throughout September, promoting Sexual Health Awareness Week at sixth-form colleges across Wakefield and Barnsley.

This year’s Sexual Health Week campaign was organised by the sex education charity Family Planning Association (FPA), emphasising a “back to basics” approach to STI awareness and encouraging providers to drive education on STI symptoms and testing.

Sexual Health Awareness Week encourages open discussion about sexual health issues among young people, including access to a range of different contraception methods and information about safe sex. This year’s campaign also coincided with Freshers Week in Wakefield and Barnsley, where students can find information about local healthcare support services.

Wakefield Sexual Health teams made a trip over to Wakefield College on 12 September to promote Trinity Walk Clinic, handing out leaflets encouraging patients to be tested for STI’s. Spectrum also spread the message on social media, shedding light on lesser known infections such as syphilis and gonorrhoea which can cause long-term damage if left undetected.

Spectrum Outreach teams based at Gateway Clinic paid a visit to Barnsley College on 14 September – targeting the largest education centre in the district. Thankyou everyone!

Sexual health teams attend Clarence Park Festival

Spectrum’s Wakefield Sexual Health team made the best of the beautiful summer weather when they attended Clarence Park Festival to promote our sexual health services on 31 July.

Chlamydia Screening staff joined the long-running music festival from the Wakefield Council Health Pod, offering chlamydia screening and a free keyring to music fans who signed up for a free STI check.  Staff also promoted Spectrum’s new Trinity Walk Clinic with flyers and leaflets, mingling in with the crowds over two days.

Clarence Park Festival is the longest running free music festival in Yorkshire. Attended by thousands of people every year, these events help Spectrum to engage with our key patient populations for sexual health – young people and under 25s – as well as making them aware of local support services. The festival has been held every year since 1991 and also features two stages, 18 bands, food and beer concessions, craft stalls and children’s activities.