2020 to 2021 has been the most challenging year that the 0-19 service has experienced and has had to respond at speed to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Lockdowns. This was to ensure the GP Care Group's front-line service to all children and young people, and families were maintained. We are proud to share that we were able to protect 0-19 services from deployment into acute services.
Our Principles for COVID-19 Services delivery was and remain to put service users first. We achieved this through the continuation of service delivery to Children/Young People & Families, amid national guidance from Public Health England that Health Visiting, Family Nurses Partnership, and School Heath Services should pause during Lockdown.
In April 2020 through the 1st Lockdown, we introduced the pace Work from Home model by a swift introduction of a digital and mobile service delivery through equipping all staff with Laptops, MS Teams, SharePoint, and AccurX video calling software. The service's top priority was Safeguarding vulnerable children and families and we quickly produced COVID-19 Guidance for 0-19 staff highlighting the additional vulnerabilities staff should be alert to during the crisis and conversations to have with parents to identify these. In particular, promoting enhanced support regarding domestic abuse has given the expected increase due to lockdown.
As expected, the service saw an increase in vulnerable families with first-time mums and parents struggling to cope emotionally and mentally due to Lockdown and the lack of social support; families reporting domestic violence, financial hardship due to furlough and loss of employment, and overcrowding issues have been exacerbated due to Lockdown and shielding requirements
The service ensured that all our vulnerable families were reviewed including undertaking COVID-19 risk assessments and signposting to the Borough COVID-19 support services. The teams maintained the delivery of all mandated contacts via video calls, and our Family Nurse Partnership service resumed face-to-face support through home visits, park, and walk and talk approaches.
As the country came out of Lockdown we resumed:
- The delivery of Home Visits for vulnerable antenatal visits, NBV to first-time parents and three to four months reviews at Health Visiting Hubs and Children’s Centres, and clinical assessments of other families requiring F2F at CC C19 Partnerships.
- Family Nurse Partnership Young Parents Group at Children’s Centres
- The Launch of ChatHealth texting service for 11–19-year-olds to enable YP’s confidential issues to be raised and support offered.
- Webinar approach for school staff “health needs” training: Young People drop-ins & Health Promotion webinars for PSHE & digital parent and YP feedback forms
- Introduced digital NCMP health questionnaires for Reception and Year 6.These were particularly important as the NCMP programme was paused nationally.
- We ensure the C19 safety of all our staff through COVID-19 risk assessments, DSE assessments, and stress risk assessments.
- Regular team meetings via MS Teams and staff webinars. The informal team get-togethers are held in all localities.
We are proud to share that the 0-19 Service's Co-Led COVID-19 Children Shielding Programme where our Nursery nurses led a weekly check-in call and signposting/referral support for families with children who have complex medical needs won the HSJ Partnership COVID-19 Partnership Award.
The service also supported vulnerable families through a partnership with Save Child UK, COVID-19 Initiative: Accessing support for our Vulnerable families where families were given play resources, IT equipment, and food vouchers.
Challenges throughout the year
- Staff Well-Being: managing staff COVID-19 anxiety, bereavement, shielding, the intensity of work on return to face-to-face.
- The intensity of completing an assessment (digitally/telephone) & limitations and concerns about what could be missed due to not being able to read body language cues etc.
- Increased Safeguarding Risk due to COVID-19, families, and young people shielding