An LiA team at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have been harnessing ‘Parent Power’ to make improvements to the Community Health Visiting Service in Reading.
Staff recognised that many families were not utilising the valuable services on offer which meant they were missing out on vital parenting support during the crucial early stages of the development of their children.
A combined team was formed with staff from across the service and the local authority. Their mission was to invite and encourage local parents to use and to help develop the Health Visiting Services.
To begin, the team went out into the community to ask the public, especially those with small children, what they thought about the Health Visiting service. It became clear that many parents had only a vague understanding of the service. Once they had been approached, the reaction from parents was very encouraging, with 90% happily giving their contact details. They were keen to learn more and become involved in a parent forum.
Using the information gathered from talking to parents and a session with all of the Health Visiting staff, the team organised a ‘market style’ event. Stalls provided information about the types of support available and parents were asked a number of questions - the answers would help to inform decisions about changes to the service.
The event was a great success and was attended by over 70 parents, grandparents and children.
Quick wins on the day included:
- Parents signing up for adult learning - one dad has since gone into full-time employment
- Children being referred to speech and language services
- Families receiving further support home visits from the health visiting team for support with breastfeeding, child behaviour and sleeping routines.
Involving parents has helped the team to implement a number of positive changes including:
- Parents helping to design an information sheet about the services available, to be given to every new parent in the Reading area
- The implementation of a central hub for telephone contacts, team emails and a robust answering pathway, responding to the needs of the community.
Moving forward, the team are continuing to involve parents in the shaping of their service. Feedback from both parents and other external agencies has been very positive.