The Healthy Child Wales Programme (HCWP) is a universal health programme for all families in Wales with children aged between 0 and 7 years.
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It was rolled out across all health boards in Wales from October 2016 and the expectation was that all health boards would be delivering the new, universal schedule of monitoring and child development contacts in full within two years. The HCWP includes a consistent range of evidence-based preventative and early intervention measures, and advice and guidance to support parenting and healthy lifestyle choices.
This interim evaluation of the Programme focuses on early implantation of the programme across Wales. The purpose of this formative study was to examine issues around implementation and adjustment to new ways of working required by the Programme.
- The consistency of approach as a result of the Healthy Child Wales Programme has been welcomed by practitioners across Wales.
- Health visitors are identifying benefits arising from the programme, including maintaining a commitment to health promotion, working with fathers and increasing problem identification and referrals in specific developmental areas.
- The various tools and checklists in place are mostly well-received and used to support consistent practice, although there is scope for improvement.
- Digital support, including the information technology infrastructure, needs further development to avoid undermining programme delivery.
- The impact of the programme on wider services (e.g. general practice and speech and language therapy) should be identified and planned for accordingly.
- Despite a shift to greater consistency, there is scope to reduce the degree of variation between health boards and individual practitioners in programme delivery.
- Overall, many issues raised are likely to be transitional in nature and practitioners should be praised for the way in which the programme has been implemented to date.
A mixed methods approach was taken, including a desk-based review of documentation and fieldwork with a range of stakeholders involved in management and delivery of services (e.g. health visitors, nursery nurses and school nurses).
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