Sing-songs and children’s games were the order of the day at the first graduation ceremony of the Family Nurse Partnership programme yesterday( Wednesday 26 September). Forty families and Family Nurse Partnership staff were joined by Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing at a special ceremony to mark the first graduates through the programme.
The children and their families, the first in Scotland to participate in the Family Nurse Partnership initiative, were presented with gold medals and graduation certificates.
The innovative service, which launched as a pilot in Lothian in 2010, has seen more than 148 families and has since been rolled out across Scotland.
Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be involved in this celebration. Investing in young parents and children is high on the Scottish Government’s agenda and we want to give every child in Scotland the best possible start. I can see for myself what a difference this programme can make to young lives and I will continue to champion worthy investments, such as the Family Nurse Partnership, that really do make a difference.”
The Family Nurse Partnership programme offers an early intervention service starting in early pregnancy and designed to support first-time teenage mothers over the first two years after birth.
Val Alexander, Family Nurse Partnership Supervisor, NHS Lothian, said: “We have seen so many positive stories over the first two years of the Family Nurse Partnership and it’s great to see so many families graduating through the service today.
“The programme relies on the development of a strong therapeutic relationship between our nurse and the client. Visits are structured, and cover personal health, environmental health, life course development, maternal role, family and friends and health and human resource services.”
Melanie Hornett, Director of Nursing, NHS Lothian, said: “I am delighted to see the first clients graduating through the programme. The service is all about helping to build on the strengths of young mums and dads encouraging them to focus on their own wellbeing and that of their child. Providing help early on gives them the best possible start in terms of improved healthcare and child development and I would like to congratulate the whole Family Nurse Partnership team on this first graduation.”
Former Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon introduced Family Nurse Partnerships to Scotland in 2010 following a visit to Harlem, where NHS Lothian was chosen as the first test site for the programme.
The Family Nurse Partnership is targeted at first time mothers aged 19 and under having their first baby, and offers guidance on breastfeeding, child development, parenting skills, future pregnancy planning, preventive health measures such as help with alcohol or cigarette dependency, better diet information, advice on better financial planning and advice for mothers wanting to go back to education or employment.