Community Nursery Nurse
I’m a Community Nursery Nurse working with the Health Visiting team. I’ve been delivering the HENRY 1-to-1 programme to families since my Advanced Training in 2014. I love the way the HENRY approach encourages parents to take small steps towards goals they set themselves. Families really enjoy the HENRY programme and make big changes – one mum I worked with called HENRY her lifesaver!
I worked with a wide range of families from different backgrounds and living in very different circumstances. There is a big council estate with high rise flats and people from many ethnic minorities. I used an interpreter to work with one family. Some of the parents I’ve worked with have significant emotional and mental health issues, and some children have been on child protection plans.
I get most referrals from health visitors, but I’ve had referrals from the outreach worker at the local children’s centre. Many of the parents referred are overweight. Some are worried about their children being fussy eaters who only eat a very limited range of foods. The HENRY approach is brilliant because it focuses on what parents are doing well already and this boosts self-confidence, even in parents whose confidence is initially very low. And by working 1-to-1 with parents in their own homes, I find that parents really open up to me. As we build a relationship, they realise they don’t need to feel embarrassed or judged talking to me about tricky issues in their lives.
What I like best is that HENRY supports families with all aspects of parenting. Parents can use guidance and praise, tuning in to needs and feelings, reward systems and guided choices to reduce stress and create good routines in all aspects of their children’s lives, not just mealtimes. So bedtimes and playtimes too. Lots of parents like the iceberg idea – sometimes this can be a real light bulb moment, when parents start to look beneath the surface at needs and feelings driving behaviour. Families often really like discussing parenting styles too. It’s something people can easily relate to and they often reflect on their own upbringing, especially if both parents are in the session. I think it’s so important to support parents to become more confident in their parenting skills before you can get on to addressing food and healthy lifestyle changes.
I also like looking through the activities and recipe sections in the HENRY book with families. Working 1-to-1, there is time to look at these sections in detail. Sometimes parents haven’t thought about games they could play with a ball or what to play on a trip out to the park. Parents also like the HENRY resources, especially the How big is a portion chart. When I visit parents at home, I see it stuck to their fridges. I think parents find it reassuring because often they worry their children are not eating enough and that’s when they give them too many unhealthy snacks in between meals.
I find HENRY dovetails well with my other work as a nursery nurse. The areas I need to talk about with any parent who’s struggling a bit are usually all covered within the HENRY programme. Now that I get lots of referrals, I’ve decided to protect some diary time for HENRY. I’ve dedicated one and a half days a week to my HENRY work and in that time I tend to see three families. I keep a waiting list and when I get a referral I ring the family and tell them it’ll be a few weeks before I can visit. Then we arrange a time and place for our first meeting. Parents usually like me to come to them at home, but sometimes we meet at the health centre. It’s up to them, and that’s what makes the 1-to-1 approach so special. HENRY helps parents because it’s responsive to individual needs.
Supporting parents to provide a healthy start in life for their children
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