Tailored family nurse support yields positive results

Monday 24th June 2019

A programme that sees vulnerable new mums get tailored support from a dedicated nurse they build up a relationship with over more than two years is yielding sometimes life-changing results, a new evaluation reveals.

The family nurse partnership (FNP), which began in Scotland in 2010, sees specially trained nurses and midwifes help young, first-time mums with self-confidence, parenting and life skills.

Some of the mothers escaped an abusive relationship or avoided having a child taken into care as a result of FNP, the Scottish Government-commissioned research shows.

Always staying non-judgemental, support workers help clients and their partner to reflect on what steps they could take to make their life and environment – and that of their child – better.

“The nurse never tells the client what to do. The client is the expert in her own life,” one family nurse lead says.

Family nurses gradually break down barriers through a relationship starting early in pregnancy to the child’s second birthday.

A mother from the programme spoke about her dedicated nurse: “I have more confidence because I got to know you and trust you... it’s better [than other services] ’cos it’s just one person you see and you don’t judge me.”

The project also helped mothers gain the confidence they needed to escape abusive relationships.

A client’s mother said: “I believe if [the Family Nurse] had not reached out to [my daughter] the way you did, not judging her, just listening and supporting her and giving her invaluable advice, then [my daughter] would have been killed by her ex-partner.

But you reached out and I reached in and between the two of us we caught her and she didn’t fall through the net. Because of your help and support, [my daughter and her baby] are thriving and very happy to be safe.”

FNP looks to break intergenerational cycles of difficult upbringings and worse life outcomes.

Some family nurses work with mums who may not have had strong connections with their parents or, in some cases, had not been protected from abuse or neglect.

Elsewhere, mothers supported by the programme reported better awareness of their own mental health needs.

One said her family nurse “helped me to see that I needed to go to the doctors” about her mental health.