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Support continues for new parents across Cornwall despite lockdown

Cornwall is one of the few areas in the country where front line health visiting, and school nursing services have continued with home visiting through the lockdown.

As contingency planning for Covid-19 were put in place across the UK in some areas health visitors were re-deployed into other roles with in the NHS.  In Cornwall  the service is delivered by Together for Families an integrated health, education and social care directorate within Cornwall Council and has continued to support families, particularly vulnerable families with home visits.

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According to research from leading mental health charities between 10-20% of women experience some form of mental health problems during the perinatal period and with the strains on the whole family of being in lockdown, there are concerns this figure could rise, we are committed to supporting the emotional health and wellbeing of all family members including fathers and siblings .

Service Director for Children’s Health and Wellbeing, Lisa Harvey, said: “We identified early on in the pandemic that services to families were a priority and have been working to maintain a high level of contact, through home visits, use of conferencing technology and video calls.  It’s important that new parents know that they supported during this time, as they start their journey with their new baby.”

New parents are still being offered home visits to undertake a new birth assessments, 42% had a visit at home with other families opting  to receive their assessment by phone or video call,   in total 94% of families had contact with a health visitor in the first 2 weeks of going home. 

Parents with children under the age of 2 have also had access to video calls with a named health visitor and telephone or video call health reviews are continuing with 92% of parents with young children being contacted in the last month.

Lisa continued: “Our health visitors and school nurses have been going above and beyond to continue to support families and children in Cornwall and I would like to thank them for doing so.  We have adapted the way we are working and have connected with high proportion of families, but I would also urge parents if they have concerns or questions, please contact their local team or our central number.”

Health Visitors work closely with Midwives and provide a New Birth Visit between 11-14 days, with planned follow ups and core health reviews at set stages up to the age of 2 years. Families with additional needs are being prioritised and health visitors and school nurses are actively contacting families to provide health advice and support.

This can range from growth and developmental concerns, health worries, behaviour and emotional health needs, coping the babies and children during the shutdown, infant feeding, nutrition and sleep issues.  Breastfeeding support is also being delivered by telephone and virtual contacts by the breastfeeding volunteers who work with the Health Visitors.

Cabinet member for children, health and wellbeing, councillor Sally Hawken, added: “Becoming a parent, whether it’s for the first time or not, can put huge emotional strain on a family and it was important that our teams prioritised supporting families to build solid foundations. 

“There have been lots of reports in the media about the impact of the lockdown on the mental health of people of all ages, but it’s especially a concern for new mums. Perinatal mental health is an area that Health Visitors are trained to identify and provide interventions and support and to ensure no mum is put under too much pressure.”

This is Maternal Mental Health Week and for more information on this please visit the Together for Families section of our website website on www.cornwall.gov.uk/togetherforfamilies or by visiting the Family Information Service.

Health Visitors and School Nurses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly can be contacted on the Client Advice Line on 01872 322779 or email coco.childrenscmc@nhs.net.