While Verity attended a local secondary school for the day, I met with the Streatham team of FNP nurses, led by nurse supervisor Dorothy Porter.
In the morning, I attended their team meeting, and was able to share information about maternal and child health services in Australia. The meeting was predominantly a business meeting, but included a case presentation, with the team of nurses providing feedback on the case.”
The case involved a young mother and infant who is “looked after” or in our context, under the protection of DHS. Another term used is “safeguarding” and in this case, the young mother herself is still under the care of Child Protection. There are a very limited number of foster care placements which can accommodate a young mother and her child. The involvement of a FNP nurse is considered a protective factor, and the nurse fulfills the dual roles of support and surveillance, a tension which we are also familiar with in Australia.
The local area has approximately 6000 births per year, and the team is well established and in a position to offer FNP place to 100% of eligible clients. Last year, the team had an acceptance rate of 50%. The nurses discussed the language used in offering the program to young women, and suggested that by using language such as “needing more support” this could put off some young mothers, who feel they have enough support with family and partners. Instead the nurses describe the program as “working with” (walking with) and highlighting the partnership model, so that it is clear that the goals of the program are to enable her to fulfill “her heart’s desire”.
An exciting new program starting in the local area is the LEAP – Lambeth Early Action Partnership, funded by the Big Lottery. The LEAP shares many goals with the FNP program, so Dorothy is looking forward to working with members of the LEAP.
LEAP comprises Lambeth Council, Clinical COmmissioning Group, Public Health, King’s Health partners, as well as local voluntary organisations, community groups, parents, babies and children, the Young Lambeth Co-op, schools, nurseries, statutory bodies, local police leaders and the National Children’s Bureau.
The initiative is for families from pregnancy until their child is four, in Coldharbour, Stockwell, Tulse Hill and Vassall. Working together with parents, carers, local workers and the community, it will provide a wide range of programs to support parents and change the way services work with families.
Funded by the Big Lottery, as part of their A Better Start initiative which aims to improve the lives of over 60,000 babies and young children across Englan, Lambeth is one of five areas receiving funding for this exciting work – along with Southend-on-Sea, Blackpool, Bradford and Nottingham. The priorities for young children will be: healthy lifestyles, wellbeing, communication and language, and changing the system to work better with families.