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Plunket visits families and makes a difference

26 October 2005

Plunket visits more families and makes a difference

Agreement to fund eight core well child health visits comes at a time when Plunket care delivery staff made a record 515,000 face-to-face contacts with young children and their families, 27,000 more visits than in 2004 and 83,000 more than in 2003.

Paul Baigent, Plunket's chief executive, speaking at the Society's annual general meeting in Wellington today (subs 26 October) said Plunket contact with all families had increased 20 percent in the last two years, while contact with populations of greater socio-economic deprivation increased by over 60 percent in the same period.

"Our increase in services represents real progress on our key strategic goal of improving access to wellness services for all young New Zealanders and their families.

"Over the past two winters there has been a significant nine percent decrease in acute admissions to Kidz First hospital and its general manager has linked this with the increased service delivered by Plunket to families in the area," said Mr Baigent.

Delighted at the increase in fully-funded contacts from 6.5 to eight, Paul Baigent acknowledged the recruitment challenges Plunket is beginning to face in providing the increased service, in view of the loss of pay parity for Plunket nurses alongside their DHB colleagues.

"Currently we do not have the capacity in our contract to pay the new level of remuneration and that is a major concern. This issue will put the roll-out of the (well child health) framework and better access to services seriously at risk if it is not resolved," said Mr Baigent.

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Plunket delivers therapeutic clinical services that promote wellness and works in the community to promote the family and community connections that foster well-being.

"It has been exciting to see acknowledgement in the past year from the health sector of the benefits of investment in wellness and acknowledgement that strength-based prevention really does work and has an impact on health outcomes," he said.

He suggested that Plunket and other non-governmental organisations should feature more prominently in the government's primary health thinking.

Mr Baigent said he was pleased at the way many of Plunket's fundamental principles, particularly around the need for a holistic family and community driven strengths-based approach - Sir Truby King's notion of a 'fence at the top of the cliff' - are being advanced across the sector and that there is increasing emphasis on the early years.

Plunket president, Kaye Crowther, said Plunket had adopted the theme 'better together' to encapsulate the way it worked within the organisation - the paid staff well supported by the volunteer workforce - and there are already gains to show as a result of this.

"We are now 'better together' working in partnership with other clinical and community service organisations and agencies which share our goals for child and family well-being. 'Better together' is really about making the necessary connections to make a difference," said Mrs Crowther.

Among those partnerships are: the Ministry of Social Development for SKIP, a parenting education programme; the Commissioner for Children, for the Littlies Lobby; ACC for the promotion of child safety; Iwi Providers, PHO's and Parents Centre with whom Memorandums of Understanding have been signed; Healthline incorporating PlunketLine for the 24 hours telephone service; and other non-government organisations belonging to Every Child Counts, an organisation set up to ensure children are placed on all political agendas.

Mrs Crowther said parenting education was fundamental to achieving better outcomes for children.

"Plunket's new parenting education programme, PEPE, is giving parents the tools they need to parent safely and effectively. While this programme is doing an excellent job for new parents, it is not enough. I want to see parenting education starting even earlier - well before pregnancy, in fact."

She added the Plunket Tots & Toddlers parenting course is being taught in more secondary schools than ever before, with a record number of students taking part, but because the programme is voluntary, many teenagers were missing out on learning basic parenting skills.


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