Children’s services lockdown lifeline wins national praise

14 May 2020 02:19
Published by: Scott Callan

Stockport NHS’ health visiting and school nursing teams were amongst the first in the country to set up a helpline for concerned parents during the lockdown and have now received national recognition for its success.

A SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) review of children’s services by the Department for Education found that Stockport NHS Foundation Trust performed extremely well on providing continued care for children with special needs during the Covid19 pandemic, with particular praise singled out for its help and advice phoneline.

The helpline was set up by health visiting and school nursing teams very early during the pandemic on March 23. The line was set up to meet the concerns of parents with outpatient appointments and routine visits now limited.

The advice line is answered by qualified health visitors, and with the help of recently improved telecommunications at the trust, calls can be swiftly transferred to the most appropriate staff member best placed to respond to the query.

It has been receiving around 10-15 calls a day, with more than 500 responded to so far.

Most calls are from patients directly wanting advice regarding their children on a range of topics including feeding concerns, minor illnesses, immunisations or concerns on their child’s development.

The line number has been promoted with the help of the trust’s partners in health and social care as well as the trust’s own social media.

While many staff at the trust have been redeployed towards support for Covid-19 patients, it has been ensured that resources for other patients and service users are made available.

There were already plans to introduce a support line of this kind for parents, but the urgency of the pandemic has meant that it has been set up sooner with the support of the trust’s IT, telecommunications and performance teams.

Angela Meldrum, the trust’s healthy child quality assurance and governance lead for community services,said: “Our health visiting and school nursing services can’t have as many face-to-face meetings with our patients and parents at the moment, but we are still there to provide the support they need.

“The helpline has been a really useful way of providing parents and carers with information and advice, as well as reassurance at a time when so many feel worried or isolated.

“Getting the line-up and working so swiftly has been a real team effort and I’d like to thank all my colleagues who have made it possible.”

Families with children aged 0-16 can call the advice line on 0161 835 6789 9am-5pm Monday to Friday for all aspects of child health, development and parenting.

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