Health visitors continue to provide crucial lifeline for families

health visitors

Health visitor Laura Gordon, working away in the NHS frontline.

By Democrat reporter

Frontline community work continues despite COVID-19, thanks to the efforts of health visitors (HVs) across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde such as Laura Gordon.

Since the pandemic began, Laura continues to manage a caseload maintaining frequent contact, building therapeutic relationships and providing a crucial role in providing support and advice to children and families in the community.

Home visits have had to be reduced, but Laura remains in the community doing face-to-face consultations at least two to three days per week. She believes providing swift support is key, and despite restrictions on face-to-face contact, health visitors around Greater Glasgow and Clyde have adapted to ensure families in need are able to receive the care and advice they require.

From increased telephone consultations and video calls to provide high quality care and support, to risk assessments over the phone before visiting to ensure use of the correct PPE, keeping children and families safe is a top priority.

Raising a new baby can be a stressful and challenging time in normal circumstances, and many new mothers rely on Laura as a key source and primary contact to help answer their questions, and support their babies and children with appropriate development. Laura provides practical advice and support for topics relating to breastfeeding, nutrition, safety – including safe sleeping arrangements, illnesses and mental health, among others.

As well as the child’s physical and mental well-being, Laura works with families to ensure they have access to any services that they may require, including for urgent needs such as  financial aid or for food banks in the area. HVs also continue to visit families with additional support needs, for example to support postnatal depression, parenting advice, and also in partnership with third sector agencies and social work for child protection support plans.

The nature of Laura’s remit means working collaboratively with families to find tailored solutions for their individual needs and circumstances. Laura, who has worked within Inverclyde for a number of years, said:  “Family life has changed massively since the pandemic began, and many families are under even more pressure than normal. Having a new baby is a huge transition and at this time most parents don’t have the support they would normally rely on. They can feel isolated and overwhelmed.  Having somebody to turn to during this time is extremely important and contributes to the ongoing safety and wellbeing of their children.

“Inverclyde is among the most deprived areas in Scotland and some families experience challenging circumstances and may have specific and urgent health needs without necessarily knowing what’s available and how to access the appropriate support. We can help them with that and facilitate access. This support can often provide lifelines when families are most in need.”

Inverclyde HVs are very much looking to the future and how they can embrace new methods of communicating effectively with families. Laura explains how they work on social media platforms to engage with patients. Laura said:

“By using Twitter and Facebook we can easily reach our families and provide key messages on all aspects of public health, including child development, brain development, perinatal mental health, weaning, nutrition, safety, safe sleep, immunisations, parental well-being, behaviour management strategies, play and stimulation.

“The way we engage with patients may have changed due to COVID-19, but we are all still here, and we are all still working within the communities to help families access the services they need while providing them with practical advice and support so they get the best outcomes for their children.”

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