Engaging the Roma mothers: a practical approach to Health Visiting

- News
(UNICEF/John McConnico)

Health Visiting has been increasingly successful in protecting the health of mothers and children. In addition, the practice improves parental well-being and parenting efficacy, as well as child outcomes.

How to assist Roma – yet to be – mothers who sometimes don’t speak the local language and are often not reached by health services? The reply is provided on a blog posted by the Institute of Health Visiting and written by Louise Wolstenholme and Alison Caden, health visitors at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The community in question comprehended about 6000 Roma migrants, who had moved from Slovakia to Sheffield (UK) in 2007-2008. “They usually live within extended supportive families; they start out on parenthood from a young age and can traditionally have large families”,  Wolstenholme and Caden write.

The two health visitors reached out to mums in the perinatal period and who were struggling to carry out effective assessments. At first, it was difficult to talk to them in private: “Whenever we meet with women in their homes they are in company of an audience of curious cousins, parents, children and passing neighbours.” In other cases they had to use an interpreter; “not easy if you are trying to talk about intimate health issues”, Wolstenholme and Caden say.

The idea

The difficulties were overcome by “normalizing” the access to health care. “We hit on the idea of a health café situated at the heart of the community in Fir Vale Oasis Academy – open at school pick-up time so women could drop in for their antenatal or baby checks and we could use the opportunity to pick up on any mental health concerns too.”

The creation of this health café unlocked the situation and attracted many mothers who could speak directly with health practitioners. “Over 100 families told us their concerns about their children – diet came top, closely followed by dental and emotional wellbeing.”

Read more on their blog.

If you are interests in Home Visiting you can find loads of Resource Modules for Home Visitors on the ISSA website.