Towards a national child health record - the Nurture Programme

CES has been working with the HSE and the Katharine Howard Foundation since 2014 to support the development and implementation of a major programme of work to improve universal child health and wellbeing services in Ireland called the HSE Nurture Programme: Infant Health and Wellbeing. The HSE Nurture Programme aims to ensure that every parent receives evidence-based information and support from conception to their child’s third birthday so that children get the best possible start in life. As part of the Programme, a new child health website, was developed and launched in December 2018, with the latest evidence based information for parents and care givers.


Involving staff in the development of a national child health record

The Programme also involves the development and roll-out of a national child health record. Currently there are different child health recording systems being used by Public Health Nurses and Community Medical Doctors across the country. Having one high-quality record in use in every part of Ireland means that the needs of children will be identified in a consistent way, it will support improved communication between healthcare professionals, and will ensure better continuity of care. It also paves the way for the future development of electronic records.

CES has been supporting the development of the national child health record over the last two years. It was vital that staff using the record were involved in its development to ensure that it fitted with their practice and was easy to use. Phases to the work included:

  • Together with the HSE we facilitated workshops with staff across the country to review drafts of the record get their feedback and incorporate it.
  • We supported a process of usability testing. This involved public health nurses from around the country using the record with families and giving us feedback on how easy it was to use. The purpose was to improve the usability of the record so that it would be ready for national implementation. 33 assessments were completed with children and families using the new record and Public Health Nurses provided extremely useful feedback to improve the record.
  • CES is now working with the HSE to incorporate feedback and finalise the record, so that it can be rolled out in 2020.

2020 – a new year for the Nurture Programme

An independent evaluation of the Nurture Programme has recently been launched and can be found below. The evaluation findings will help to inform the next phase of the Nurture Programme, as it works towards embedding and sustaining the work to date, and further improving child health services into the future. This work will help ensure children and families achieve the best outcomes possible and improve their lifelong health and wellbeing.