A team of four health coordinators based within Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust acts as the broker between all mainstream health services, the children’s centres and well-being providers. Each coordinator covers a locality, and leads across the whole area on specific topics, such as nutrition. The role has been independently evaluated by the University of Central Lancashire as being effective in fast delivery of complex multi-agency projects.
The coordinators provide mentorship on children’s centre health development plans as well as providing training and support to Centres to ensure that health activities are evidence based and delivered to high quality standards.
They have led on specific projects, such as a dental access scheme which enables children’s centres to make a child’s first appointment with a dentist; this has increased the take-up of dentistry in the early years and generated over 7000 new dental attendances. Vitamin D is distributed by all children’s centres – important in an area with a high Asian population and a growing problem of Vitamin D deficiency. Uptake of Vitamin D has shown a significant increase from 300 units p.a. to 18000 p.a. within two years of the scheme starting.
There is also an emotional health team, comprising Infant Mental Health Workers and Drug and Alcohol Workers, which focuses on pregnant women and families with an infant or pre-school child. This team’s work fills the gap between universal and specialist services. 60% of those completing targeted work with the team are subsequently managed back into universal provision.
Health visitors and children’s centre staff provide an integrated service to families. There is a set programme of home visits made by health visitors, with children’s centre staff visiting in between to reinforce messages about breastfeeding, weaning, promoting language development and so on.