Facing the Future Together for Child Health: Supporting parents and carers

The examples below illustrate different ways of supporting parents and carers:


ASK SNIFF - University College London
DIY Health - Bromley by Bow Health Partnership

Acutely Sick Kid Safety Netting Interventions For Families (ASK SNIFF) - University College London, University of Northampton, University of Oxford, University of Leicester

The ASK SNIFF programme developed from a shared concern to address the needs of parents for information to help them determine when to seek help for an acutely sick child. Working with parents, clinical and academic collaborators, the team developed the concept of safety netting itself and took an evidence-based approach to developing the resource. A parent panel informs every stage of the project to ensure that the work is developed with, for and by parents.

  • ASK SaRA: Acutely Sick Kid Safety-net Review and Analysis (2011): A systematic review to identify the effectiveness of information resources to help parents decide when to seek medical care for an acutely sick child under five. ASK SaRA identified what did and did not work in previous interventions.
  • ASK PIP: Acutely Sick Kid Parent Information Project (2012): A qualitative research project to explore parents’ and healthcare professionals’ use of information resources during decision-making in acute childhood illness at home. Building on ASK SaRA, it asked what information they use, what they like and dislike and what they would like in the future.
  • ASK SID: Acutely Sick Kid Safety-netting Intervention Development (2013-14): Funded by Well Child, this is a mixed methods project to co-design the content and delivery methods for a standardised safety-netting intervention tool. Findings of the previous phases are being applied within this project, for example, through its focus on more than one symptom and collaboration with parents and healthcare professionals in every stage of the development.
  • ASK VIC: Acutely Sick Kid Video Capture (2012 – ongoing) of sick children presenting to the emergency department: Volunteer health professionals are developing a video library which will be used to populate our intervention with explanatory video clips.

The next step will be the development of a prototype intervention which can then be feasibility tested and clinically evaluated following implementation. The team’s vision is that this resource will be freely available to every parent with a child under five years of age.

Further details: asksniff@ucl.ac.uk

DIY Health - Bromley by Bow Health Partnership

The DIY Health project aims to provide parents and carers of children under the age of five with the knowledge and skills to confidently manage their children’s health at home and to know when to seek further help. With funding from Higher Education North Central and East London, the Bromley by Bow Health Partnership worked with University College London Partners, the Bromley by Bow Centre, healthcare professionals, parents and the local community to create an education programme that would give parents and carers the confidence to know when and where best to access health services for children with minor ailments. The project created a curriculum of 12 sessions that focussed on the most common problems in the under-five age group, as well as needs relevant to the local community.

The weekly sessions take a participatory family learning approach and are co-facilitated by a health visitor and an adult learning specialist with support from local children’s centres. The sessions place strong emphasis on parents' experiences and the importance of understanding these in order to support and direct self-care for the future, leading to greater engagement and understanding of how to use services most effectively. The project has recorded promising preliminary results and seen positive anecdotal behaviour changes in the attendees; for example, parents attending for coughs and colds are now comfortable seeking advice from a pharmacist. The pilot reported that parents who had participated in the most sessions had reduced attendance, not only for GP appointments, but also for the emergency department.

Next steps include a robust evaluation by the Anna Freud Centre, which will develop outcome measures. The project will also be modelled economically to ensure it is delivering value for money. To facilitate wider rollout a comprehensive training package is being co-produced.

Further details: Emma Cassells, Patient First Project Manager emma.cassells@nhs.net