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Population health needs assessment

An assessment of the health and wellbeing needs of children and young people is an important starting point to plan services to improve health and wellbeing during school age. The focus is the population of children and young people for the cluster of schools that school nursing services has responsibility for, rather than a health needs assessment for every single child or young person.

When undertaking population health needs assessments, professionals working in school nursing services understand the strengths and challenges to health and wellbeing in the population. This includes the identification of the additional needs of vulnerable groups such as:

  • children in care
  • travellers
  • refugees
  • asylum seekers
  • those with complex health needs

School nursing services raise awareness of the needs identified locally, for example through drop-in attendance, and support the development of universal or targeted public health interventions in partnership with other professional disciplines and agencies.

School nursing services will undertake a population health needs assessment for each of the cluster of schools they are allocated. The assessment will consider the health needs of all school age children and young people, regardless of setting.

The population health needs assessment will be completed annually during the first term of the academic year (September to December). This enables school nursing services to take account of other information sources held by schools and other public services, for example wellbeing assessments, which are produced by public service boards in Wales. These assessments need to be reviewed annually to reflect any emerging public health concerns or issues. There is a wealth of quantitative and qualitative data available to school nursing services about the health of the local population that can be narrowed to the local area and compared to regional and national data for comparison and benchmarking.

Some example indicators are:

  • children in poverty (under 16 year olds)
  • immunisation uptake
  • dental extractions
  • childhood obesity
  • admission episodes for alcohol-specific conditions (under 18 year olds)
  • smoking and vaping rates
  • teenage pregnancy rates
  • absentee rates in education

Using the population health needs assessment, school nursing services will ensure effective planning, development and delivery of services to improve public health and wellbeing outcomes for the target population. In line with the operating model, key high impact areas which reflect the population health need will be prioritised and identified.

Whilst being led by school nursing services, this approach supports collaborative working and integrated delivery. It will be delivered by teams with different skill mixes, with health workers working alongside other members of the wider NHS Wales and public service workforce.