Expansion of nurse home visit program not stretching Far West

The NSW government has announced an expansion of nurse home visits across the state under the Sustaining NSW Families program, but families from Broken Hill and surrounding communities will have to wait to be included.

At the moment, Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) believe families in this region are already well supported by available services.

The Sustaining NSW Families program will now be available at 17 sites across 14 Local Health Districts, but not including FWLHD.

When the Barrier Truth asked FWLHD why the Far West was not included, they provided a detailed list of all available services, suggesting current child and family health services are adequate.

“Sustaining NSW Families is a model of care available in select locations in urban and regional centres across the state, where child and family health nurses can visit homes within an hour of the team’s base so they can deliver high-intensity sustained support over a two-year period,” a FWLHD spokesperson told us.

“NSW Health continues to consider other possible options to provide more intensive support for families in remote areas, including [the] Far West,” they said.

“FWLHD says it already provides a range of health services at the Community Health Centre.”

 FWLHD says it already provides a range of health services at the Community Health Centre for parents, carers, and their children and families, with a focus on prevention and early intervention.

“The child and family health nursing service offers home visits for new babies, vaccinations, and developmental health checks from birth to four years, including breastfeeding support and parenting support,” they explained.

“Social workers are available to provide counselling and support, information and referrals to housing, financial, legal and other service providers, and a child and family support worker can also provide case management and coordinate services for vulnerable families.”

“The women’s health service is a free and confidential service that helps all women including new mothers to access health care and information to help them be as healthy as possible at every stage of life,” they said.

Given the first 2000 days of life – from conception to age five – is a critical time for physical, cognitive, social, and emotional health, what happens in the first 2000 days has an impact throughout a child’s life.

With more vulnerable families with young children across the state set to receive free support at home with the expansion of the Sustaining NSW Families program to eight new locations, the nurse home visiting program is aimed at improving pregnancy and early childhood health and development outcomes in those critical first 2000 days for more families across the state who may be in need of support and assistance.

Each Sustaining NSW Families team consists of a nurse coordinator, child, and family health nurses, supported by a social worker and allied health professionals. Clinicians work in partnership with other service providers, including general practitioners and maternity care providers.

Under the program, specially trained child and family health nurses work with families to provide regular assessments, plus tailored programs and referrals to other support services they may need during the early years of childhood.

Families who need extra help in the first two years of their child’s life will have greater access to home visits from these nurses. The program also complements the range of universal services provided by Child and Family Health services.

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