Last Thursday myself and Julia Sanders attended a celebration of 10 years of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) in the Attlee Suite at Portcullis House, Westminster. In fact this was our second visit of the week to Westminster.
Wide range of expertise
On Monday, members of the Building Blocks team (Kerry Hood, Sue Channon, Julia and myself) went to the third and final of a series of round table discussion groups organised by The Foundation Years Information and Research group and chaired by Karen Buck MP. The meeting series has explored the introduction of innovative early intervention schemes to the UK setting and featured work led by Cardiff University’s Building Blocks team in addition to expert contributors from other parts of the UK, Holland, Germany and Australia. I previously blogged following the first meeting back in January 2017 but was unable to get to the second in February. Organisers and contributors to the meeting now plan to develop guidance to support innovation in the development and adaptation of programmes to support families. I’m sure that gathering together the expertise from around the table and forming into guidance will be a creative and fascinating exercise.
English experience of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP)
On Thursday though, the focus was solely on the English experience of FNP and the event was hosted by the FNP National Unit led by Ailsa Swarbrick. Over the past 10 years the specialist home visiting programme, which originated in the US has been adapted for use in the English healthcare setting, undergone a formal implementation evaluation, expanded in delivery to around 100 sites and was formally trialled by Cardiff University. Adaptations to the scheme indicated by our findings are now being implemented and further evaluated while the delivery of the service has also moved to local authorities as part of broader changes in public health provision in England. The programme is shortly due to deliver its one millionth client visit! The FNP National Unit has responded to the trial findings on their website. The importance to FNP of our current follow-on study, Building Blocks 2-6 that will establish medium-term programme impact is also clear. The FNP’s current ADAPT programme which is informed by Building Blocks findings is currently testing modifications intended to address issues such as smoking cessation and personalisation of FNP, for example, by better targeting of clients.
Strong support for early initiatives
It is fair to say that our trial results in addition to other major structural changes over the last ten years referred to by Ailsa – such as the financial crash – have significantly challenged but also shaped how FNP has changed and continues to develop. The consistent policy support for FNP was reflected by the speakers at the event – the labour MP, Graham Allen, Nicola Blackwood (current Under-Secretary of State for Public Health and Innovation) and Prof Viv Bennett, the Director of Nursing, Public Health England. It is encouraging to note the broad political alliance in this area of policy and practice with the importance of the period between conception and children’s second birthday reflected in cross-party manifesto initiatives such as The 1001 Critical Days campaign.
For me the two most important contributions to the FNP celebration event were from an FNP supervisor and a former client (‘graduate’) who both described how the scheme continued to inspire and influence them. Julia and I also had the pleasure of talking informally and in some depth to another scheme graduate and her family nurse about being part of the programme and also about some of the continued innovation supporting new families (e.g. video feedback to promote positive parenting). As we continue to add to the evidence base for FNP through our Building Blocks 2-6 study, it is a privilege and a motivation to spend time in the company of those who have led its introduction, who deliver FNP in practice and who have brought their first child up with the encouragement and support of local FNP nurses.
The food looked great too but we had a train to catch back to Cardiff!