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Family Nurse Partnership

Published: 5 Feb 2016 11:00

Programme to expand and adapt.

More babies born to young mothers will have a healthier start to life as the Scottish Government's Family Nurse Partnership expands.

Since the programme began in January 2010 it has supported more than three thousand teenage mothers, with very high rates of engagement and low numbers leaving the programme.

From April 2016 it will also be offered to eligible 20-24 year olds, with further adaptations rolled out over the course of the year thanks to a funding commitment of £10.7 million in 2016/17.

The Scottish Government aims to make the programme available to up to eight thousand first time mothers by 2018/19.

Family Nurse Partnership sees expectant mums visited by a specially trained nurse every one or two weeks during pregnancy and throughout the first two years of their baby's life.

Nurses support mothers to make positive choices on areas such as improving the home learning environment, preventative health measures, parenting skills, breastfeeding, better diet information, developing positive relationships and on education and employment.

Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said:

"It is vital that we are getting it right for every child. Over the past few years, my colleagues and I have been lucky to meet many women and children who have enjoyed the benefits of dedicated support to build on their strengths and to achieve better outcomes for their children.

"Through this programme the children I meet are healthier and happier through the confidence of their parents to make positive choices. That's why it is important that more families are going to be able to benefit from this programme.

"The benefits of these partnerships last beyond a generation and its hoped the good judgements parents make now will continue to impact positively for their children in their formative years and when they start a family.

"Through planned programmes like Family Nurse Partnerships we can give all Scottish children the opportunity to experience Scotland as the best place to grow up. The Scottish NHS provides excellent services for parents and children but there is more we can do. Through powers to control all aspects of Scotland's future we can do much more improve the health and wellbeing of the nation.

"In rolling out FNP, we will work closely with stakeholders to ensure that we plan this expansion taking account of our commitment to have 500 additional health visitors."

NHS Tayside's Chief Nurse for Children and Families, Joan Wilson said:

"Since the Family Nurse Partnership started in NHS Tayside, over 730 teenage mothers have enrolled on the programme. It has been inspiring to see how well young mothers, their partners and wider family members engage with our Family Nurses and the programme to help them meet their goals and aspirations for their children.

"We have been privileged to witness so many achievements in the areas of child development, uptake of immunisation, breastfeeding initiation at birth and parents accessing employment, education and training opportunities during their time on the programme. We look forward to embracing the next phase and continuing to build on our learning."

Notes to editors

The Family Nurse Partnership programme is an intensive, preventive, one-to-one home visiting programme for young, first time mothers from early pregnancy until their child reaches two. It was developed in America, by Professor David Olds, and is delivered in this country under licence. Scottish Ministers hold the licence for the programme in Scotland.

Its main aims are to improve pregnancy outcomes, child health and development and the economic self-sufficiency of the family. Family Nurse Partnership has brought a new approach to nursing, working with the parent to help them build up their own skills and resources to parent their child well, but also to think about their own future aspirations.

Over 35 years of rigorous research has shown significant benefits for first time mothers and their children in the short, medium and long term across a wide range of outcomes including:-

Improved early language development and academic achievement; improvements in antenatal health; reductions in children's injuries, neglect and abuse; improved parenting practices and behaviour; fewer subsequent pregnancies and greater intervals between births; increased maternal employment and reduced welfare use; increases in fathers' involvement; reduced arrests and criminal behaviour for both children and mothers.

The findings from the recent Randomised Controlled Trial in England looked at a range of outcomes relating to both mother and child. These were on short term outcomes, which were not the primary or only reason for bringing FNP to Scotland. Longer term child development, safeguarding and parental lifecourse outcomes are just as important to us.

A range of adaptations are now being developed, based on learning from the past five years combined with the findings from the recent Randomised Controlled Trial in England which will include adapting the FNP eligibility criteria, making FNP available to eligible mothers up to the age of 25, new clinical learning and guidance on critical areas: smoking cessation in pregnancy and supporting parenting and child development; support to better localise and integrate FNP.

The aim is to develop and test a model which will still offer a clear, evidence based structure and retain the many strengths of FNP the RCT pointed to, including the powerful engagement between family nurses and vulnerable families, but which will:

  • Achieve greater improvements in outcomes for vulnerable families; and
  • Be more flexible – personalised to the strengths and risks of individual clients and better integrated with local service provision.

This will happen alongside the health visiting expansion, announced in June 2014 funding of £41.6 million over the next 4 years for 500 additional Health Visitors, and the Scottish Government will work closely with NHS Boards to support both expansions.

Further information can be found here - http://www.nursefamilypartnership.org/