Mobile app for young people

What: A mobile phone app for young people of secondary school age that provides information and advice on health care issues.


Sheila Roberts – Immunisations Lead and School Nurse
Charlie Pratten – School Health Nurse
Laura Sanders – School Health Nurse
Laura Pretty – School Health Nurse
Jenny Robinson – School Health Nurse

Background: Sheila initially qualified in 1985 and then trained as a paediatric nurse in 1997. She has been a public health nurse for about 5 years. For the last two years and a half years she has been an immunisations lead for school aged children working within the school nursing team. Sheila works with schools to share health information on vaccinations for parents and young people, to empower them to make more informed and appropriate health choices through informed consent. Sheila also works with her team to ensure both knowledgeable and competent in practice. She mentors students and occasionally returns for short placements as a practice nurse. Her colleagues in the school nursing team involved in this venture are Charlie Pratten, Laura Sauders, Laura Pretty and our manager Jenny Robinson, they are now part of another trust.

Approach: Prevention

Location: Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust, South West London

Speciality: Community and School Nursing

What initiative or project are you involved in?

The School Nursing Team developed and interactive mobile app as a platform for delivering information and advice on healthcare issues to young people of secondary school age across the boroughs of Hounslow and Richmond.
What was different about ours was the App also offers a safe and discreet place for young people to access health information and enables the school nurse teams to engage directly with young people to provide safe and reliable information on health and wellbeing. With young people using mobile technologies as a key platform to connect, communicate and share information, the development of the app is an ideal way to deliver the message.

The app offers young people access to information, film clips and advice across a range of areas concerning their personal health, including:

  • sexual health topics such as contraceptive advice, STIs, relationship wellbeing, and advice on sexual identity covering the LGBTQA spectrum
  • advice and support on issues including drugs/alcohol/smoking
  • information dedicated to mental health and emotional wellbeing, including a specific section for young carers
  • facts, alerts and downloadable consent forms relating to immunisations
  • the local services available and where to go for help
  • the opportunity to contact the School Nurse Service directly and confidentially, eliminating potential obstacles of young people wanting advice but being discouraged by having to get this via their school or parents.

What prompted the work?

The School Nurse team were asked to revamp their representative page on the Intranet and we identified the need for an interactive health care app that is based on local service support and that is also interactive, enabling the young person to access relevant, real-time support, advice and alerts. During the initial scoping process one of the nurses suggested that an App may be a useful platform on which to communicate with their younger target audience, unfortunately due to funding costs this idea was dismissed.

However the despite the cost the idea showed a lot of potential and the School Nursing Team, wanting to explore the possibilities of developing the App, approached the Comms Team who suggested that they enter their idea into the in house ‘Dragons Den’ competition.

We embarked upon the challenge and a small group across two boroughs came together, working tirelessly to prepare a business plan and presentation in order to pitch their idea to the panel. The bid was successful and the team secured the available funds necessary to develop the app. The success of our bid threw up new challenges, we then ventured into a new world of budgets, procurements and putting out tenders to app developers who would be responsible for building , designing and formatting the app. The learning curve was huge, but with a key team of five nurses fuelled by hard work and ambition, we successfully managed to complete our task, taking full advantage of the year’s timeframe that we had been given.

How did you initiate the work?

The School Nurse Team took advantage of the ‘Dragons Den’ competition in order to gain attention and support for their idea, and upon their success in the competition they managed to secure the necessary funds to develop their app and bring their idea into fruition. Once in the development section of their campaign the nurses also enlisted the involvement of local young people who were invited to get involved in the development and design of the app, ensuring that it would be effective in meeting their needs and requirements.

Opportunities included:

  • helping to design, test and market the app
  • developing marketing materials, such as festival style wristbands
  • promoting the app during assemblies and talks
  • participating in focus groups, to ensure that the app meets the diverse needs of young people in the area.

Opportunities included:

  • helping to design, test and market the app
  • developing marketing materials, such as festival style wristbands, to be handed out as the schools break up for holidays
  • promoting the app during assemblies and talks
  • participating in focus groups, to ensure that the app meets the diverse needs of young people in the area.

What difference has the project or initiative made?

There has been some obstacles in the distribution/availability of the app due to a takeover of responsibility within the NHS, the school nursing team are no longer part of the HRCH Trust and are now under the responsibility of CLCH, this transition has opened debate on whether the App will be distributed as planned.

The British Youth Council had highlighted the need for the School Nurse Service to be visible, accessible and confidential; the app was our answer. Even just in the development phases of the app we could see the positive effects that it was having; the presence and profile of the School Nurse role was dramatically elevated with students and school staff recognizing them personally and having a better idea of the role.

The School Nurses had recently re-launched the service, and despite the need for more staff they managed to meet the increased demand for interactive days and sessions, receiving excellent feedback. They also increased the availability of open door sessions in schools to meet the aforementioned targets of the British Youth Council to be ‘visible, accessible and confidential’.

What are the long-term objectives?

The NHS is a forever evolving organisation. It continues to re-evaluate its service providers creating could improve upon their interaction with young people and developed their app in order to do so. The long-term objective would be to continue to develop the school nursing service keeping it accessible and relevant to the young people within their service, adapting and responding to changes and opportunities as they present themselves.

Prior to a full launch, Hounslow and Richmond boroughs have been tendered to a new provider. This has meant that the interactive app is currently dormant as it was not part of the tender transfer.