A year of challenge – and achievement: Reflections on 2020

2020 was marked by the outbreak of Covid-19.  It was in responding to the pandemic that the incredible role of nurses and midwives came into sharp focus, and it was an apt coincidence that the World Health Organisation had designated 2020 as the  Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

Each FNP team across England demonstrated tenacity and resilience in continuing to deliver the programme to vulnerable clients, face-to-face or virtually.

Purposeful engagement and dialogue with FNP sites allowed the FNP National Unit to better understand how the pandemic was impacting on clients and teams.  In working in close partnership with FNP sites, we were able to offer appropriate support to assist delivery of the programme at local level, while helping inform planning at a national level for the work required to enable recovery and service delivery beyond the pandemic.

The pandemic increased levels of vulnerability within the population while in many cases masking hidden harm, especially amongst children living in poverty or facing other disadvantages. As a data informed clinical programme, the insight provided by FNP sites helped ensure vulnerable parents and children were adequately safeguarded. Site feedback on innovation and best practice during this time was also used to further refine the programme and its delivery, particularly in seeking to address inequalities that were being exacerbated by the impacts of the pandemic.

A key highlight of the year was the conclusion of our two-year ADAPT pilot project which involved over 20 local FNP sites testing a change to the service delivery model for the programme as well as several clinical adaptations. The success of this testing led to the implementation of a more personalised model of programme delivery across all FNP sites in August.  Those FNP teams involved in ADAPT were enthusiastic about what they had learned, while the remaining sites readily incorporated personalisation into their delivery of the programme.  

2020 also saw the FNP National Unit move into Public Health England (PHE) where, we contributed to PHE’s pandemic response.  We also continued our work with vulnerable families by contributing to the Best Start in Life and First 1000 Days agenda and supported the national safeguarding agenda, incorporating learning from FNP.  We also highlighted the lived experiences of FNP clients such as ‘Leah’ and helped their voices be heard.  

September saw the launch of a new information system, TURAS FNP England, enabling sites to unlock the rich potential of the client and programme data they collect to inform and enhance their clinical practice, as well as provide real-time data on clinical outcomes to local commissioners.

We also engaged commissioners and provider leads as system stakeholders, briefing them in a series of collaborative webinars on how the programme could be utilised to enhance and develop services for other vulnerable groups.  We also updated them on how FNP teams in different areas were responding to the needs of vulnerable families during the pandemic. These webinars were a great opportunity for shared learning.

We were active internationally as well, contributing to an international project run by the University of Colarado, Denver (UCD) analysing the impact of Covid-19 on FNP clients and sites, on access to wider services, and the use of Telehealth.

Across 2021, we will continue to share learning from FNP and promote the importance of evidence-based intensive home visiting, recognising the ongoing impact of Covid-19 for vulnerable families, listening to the voices of clients and families, using clinical data to inform improvement, and working closely with stakeholders to quality assure the FNP programme. We will work alongside colleagues to deliver PHE’s strategy for giving every child the Best Start in Life and strive to ensure that No Child is Left Behind