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Nikki Freeman

iHV Expert Adviser: SEND

BSc (Hons) Children’s Nurse, Health Visitor – SCPHN BSc (Hons)

Nikki Freeman is a Health Visitor Clinical Lead for SEND working for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, covering the East and North location. Nikki is the iHV Expert Adviser for SEND.

When Nikki was seven, her older brother developed epilepsy and it was this early introduction, as a young carer and seeing the struggles her parents had accessing support and care, that led to Nikki’s first job working with children with SEND in the community. Her interest and passion for improving care for children with SEND continued throughout her working life, supporting babies and children of all ages in community settings, including special needs schools, children’s homes, and day centres.

Nikki began her nursing career in 2013 when she trained as a children’s nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Working as a children’s nurse gave Nikki further experience and greater knowledge of children with SEND. In 2016, Nikki trained as a health visitor, and her passion for supporting children with SEND and their families continued.

In 2021, Nikki was successfully appointed as ‘Health Visitor, Clinical Lead for SEND’ at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust alongside her colleague, Kirsty Jacques (also iHV Expert Adviser for SEND). Nikki and Kirsty collaborated with partners and parents on a strategy for improving the equity of how children with SEND and their families were supported by the Public Health Nursing Team (0-5) across Hertfordshire.

Nikki and Kirsty provide clinical leadership for SEND for the 0-5 years Public Health Nurse service across Hertfordshire. Since coming into post, Nikki and Kirsty have been instrumental in leading on the following workstreams for the 0-5 Public Nurse Service:

  • Creating a SEND Directory of resources
  • Further developing the 0-5 SEND pathway
  • Developing SEND competencies for practitioners
  • Developing standard operating procedures
  • Improving communication across care pathways
  • Developing and delivering training so practitioners are equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively support children with SEND and their families

As a Health Visitor Clinical Lead for SEND in Hertfordshire, Nikki continues to work as a frontline health visitor and holds a caseload of children with complex needs and disabilities. Nikki provides expert clinical advice and consultation with health visitors and public health nurses.

Nikki attends SEND working groups across Hertfordshire County providing valuable and expert advice for the development of new policies and pathways. Nikki works collaboratively with the education sector to improve outcomes for children in the early years. Nikki leads and facilitates early years support sessions for children with emerging health and education needs to ensure families can receive integrated care and support.

A particular highlight of Nikki’s career was jointly leading, planning and delivering an integrated, early years SEND health conference: ‘Early Intervention to reduce health inequalities’. Nikki first thought of the idea of hosting a 0-5 SEND conference when she realised there was a gap in this practice area. She then translated her vision into reality.  Nikki is incredibly proud of the success of the conference and how well it was received by the 150 delegates who attended from across the whole of the country.

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