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Working to improve outcomes for children who have mothers with poor maternal health

6th February 2017

A blog written by Deborah Astbury and Loretta Knock, both Health Visitors at Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust, on a group they have started which is an example of community partnership working.

In the local community, there are a high number of women with poor maternal mental health, a significant number of children who underperform at the 27-month development review and a substantial number of children who demonstrate poor readiness when starting school.

Crafty Mummies (named by the women who attend) is a weekly-run group which was started to support more vulnerable mothers (Universal Plus and Universal Partnership Plus) with children under five to gain a better understanding of the significance of their influence on the future outcomes on their child.

Crafty Mummies group

The purpose of the group is to support mothers to provide a more stable, responsive and nurturing environment for their child, and consequently enhancing the child’s potential for healthy social, emotional and physical development. The intended outcomes are to increase the number of children reaching key milestones at the 27-month developmental check, achieve a higher level of readiness for school and improve emotional literacy in the local children.

Crafty Mummies is run by two health visitors and is supported by a parent volunteer. The local children’s centre provides both a room and crèche for the group. The group runs once a week for an hour and a half, and the session is divided into two parts.

The first section is to deliver a 15-minute structured discussion, which is health visitor led, and focuses on topics such as parent and child emotional health and wellbeing and healthy lifestyles.

The second part of the session is led by a parent volunteer. This is a craft session and its purpose is to offer mothers the opportunity to make social links, build self-esteem and improve emotional wellbeing through creative art and relaxation. During this part of the session the parents often discuss issues or concerns with their children and solutions can be found through group discussion with the support of the health visitors.

The parent volunteer also runs a Facebook page to keep parents informed of what is happening in the group and it is also a craft discussion forum.

Crafty Mummies group

The group runs with between 6-15 mothers attending weekly.  It is up to the women to choose how long they attend the group for; if they consider that continuing to attend supports their own mental health and positively impacts on their child’s emotional wellbeing, then they are able to do so.

We evaluate the group termly; the evaluations so far have been extremely positive and have enabled us to evidence the impact of our work.

The crèche has offered added benefits as the senior crèche worker has been extremely supportive of the group’s aims and she feeds back with any worries or concerns she has regarding the children who attend. This has facilitated more timely referrals for some of the children into diagnostic or support services.

It has been a great pleasure both starting and running this group and we hope we have managed to capture the essence of it in this piece of writing.

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