Latest BC Healthy Connections Project Features

‘You need the right person or the right link…’

February 2, 2015

Nurse-Family PartnershipScientific interviewers who work with the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP) speak to women about some of the most emotionally intense experiences of their young lives. Their first pregnancy. Their relationships. The financial — and other — challenges they face. Their future job prospects. Their education.

Interviewer Vivian Lehman* remembers one mother-to-be especially well. Lehman expressed how much she appreciated the woman taking the time to share her experiences. “She sat there for a minute and looked at me and said, ‘I’m happy I did this and I really hope it can help improve services,’ ” Lehman recalls.

The woman had had experience with foster care and had grown up without much support. But the interview gave her the chance to have her voice heard. She was 18 years old.

“To have [young women] relate these feelings back to you is really powerful,” Lehman says, and she herself remains moved by the potential of her role. Her job is to interview participants in the project, tracking both their successes and the challenges they face.

Lehman believes the BCHCP, which is a scientific study of the Nurse-Family Partnership, will help show if there are benefits to adding new programs to support young first-time mothers facing socio-economic disadvantages compared to what’s currently available.

An intensive child and maternal health program, Nurse-Family Partnership provides disadvantaged young women who are preparing to parent for the first time with one-on-one home visits with public health nurses throughout their pregnancy. The visits continue until children reach their second birthday. The BCHCP is the first Canadian scientific evaluation of this program.

Lehman also believes the study will illustrate the challenge of getting information to the young women who need it. “There are quite a few different services [for young pregnant women],” she says, “but you need the right person or the right link to find your way in to them. It can be really hard when you’re young and find yourself pregnant.”

Having the chance to interview participants in the BCHCP is something Lehman describes as a tremendous experience. “It’s an honour to be able to peek into their lives,” she says. “It’s really a privilege.”

Note that NFP is available only through the BC Healthy Connections Project for the duration of recruitment. Practitioners or young pregnant women can click here for more information.

* Name has been changed to protect privacy


Nurse-Family Partnership acknowledged by Public Health Agency

January 12, 2015

The Public Health Agency of Canada has named Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) as a “best practice” and has posted it to its Best Practices Portal.

To be included on the portal, an intervention must meet criteria related to:
•    evidence of impact,
•    quality of evidence,
•    adaptability, and
•    credibility of source.

In the case of NFP, the sources were three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) conducted in the US by researcher David Olds.

NFP still needs testing in Canada prior to widespread implementation here — due to differences in our public health, social, and healthcare systems, as well as in our populations, compared with the US.

And for the first time in Canada, NFP’s effectiveness is now being evaluated — through the BC Healthy Connections Project, a large RCT taking place across BC. For this evaluation, the team is recruiting 1,000 young women who are preparing to parent for the first time. Prenatal, child and maternal outcomes will then be assessed in those who receive NFP compared with those receiving usual or existing services. The BC Healthy Connections Project also includes a nursing process evaluation to inform adaptations that may be needed to ensure NFP’s success in BC and Canada.

Note that NFP is available only through the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP) for the duration of recruitment. Practitioners or young pregnant women can click here for details on how to reach public health and determine eligibility for the BCHCP.


Young mom shows strength in raising her baby

January 5, 2015

home visiting programFor public health nurse Kali Bandi,* the strength of the young women who benefit from Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) is demonstrated by one of her participants.

An intensive child and maternal health program, NFP gives disadvantaged young women — about to become first-time parents — one-on-one home visits with public health nurses throughout the pregnancy. These visits continue until children reach their second birthday. It is currently being offered in BC as part of an evaluation – the BC Healthy Connections Project – comparing NFP and existing health and social services.

One of Bandi’s 15-year-old participants comes from a family that truly values nursing care. Her own mother had been involved in a home visiting program when she was young. “Trust in nurses is very strong for this family,” Bandi says.

Throughout her interactions with this young mom — whose baby is now four months old — Bandi has been deeply impressed by the young woman’s parenting style. “She has the most amazing way of being with this baby,” Bandi says. “She’s very engaged, asks fabulous questions and has her own view of what she has to do.” At three days postpartum, the mom, who was then living at home, decided her own family situation wasn’t ideal for the baby. So, she moved out, into the home of her boyfriend’s parents.

“She does what she needs to do to take care of that baby in the best way she can,” Bandi says. “She’s a classic example of how age doesn’t equate to parenting ability.  I’ve worked with lots of moms who are older and highly educated and yet they completely flounder in frustration at meeting their baby’s needs.”

Reflecting on her 10 years as a public health nurse, Bandi says that NFP has given her new tools to work with families. But she also credits the families themselves. “Most of the participants have so many fires they’re putting out all the time. But these families have strengths and they can work through a lot.”

Note that NFP is available only through the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP) for the duration of recruitment. Practitioners or young pregnant women can click here for details on how to reach public health and determine eligibility for the BCHCP.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.


David Olds congratulates BC Healthy Connections Project

December 18, 2014

December 2014 marks the first anniversary of the launch of the randomized controlled trial of Nurse-Family Partnership in BC.

Known as the BC Healthy Connections Project, this study evaluates the effectiveness of Nurse-Family Partnership – an intensive home visiting program that aims to improve early childhood mental health and development – in comparison with BC’s existing health and social services.

Nurse-Family Partnership gives disadvantaged young women who are preparing to parent for the first time one-on-one home visits with public health nurses throughout their pregnancy. These visits continue until children reach their second birthday.

One thousand mothers-to-be are being enrolled across the province. Half will receive Nurse-Family Partnership while the others will receive the services typically provided by their Health Authority. Then, then the two groups will be compared.

Developed in the US more than 30 years ago by David Olds, a Colorado-based researcher, the program is now being adopted and evaluated around the world with his support.

Today, he provides a video message of congratulations to organizers, nurses and participants.

Please click the link above to hear David Old’s message.

Note that NFP is available only through the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP) for the duration of recruitment. Practitioners or young pregnant women can click here for details on how to reach public health and determine eligibility for the BCHCP.


Royal College endorses Nurse-Family Partnership

December 8, 2014

Nurse-Family PartnershipIn a position statement made public this week, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has endorsed the Nurse-Family Partnership program, or NFP.

“Evidence based home visiting programs such as the Nurse-Family Partnership [should] be made available to all vulnerable families in Canada,” the statement says, noting that Canada’s first randomized controlled trial on the Nurse-Family Partnership — the BC Healthy Connections Project — is currently underway in BC.

The College argues that the years between conception and age six are a time when crucial developments take place across social, emotional, cognitive and physical domains. As well, it states that early childhood has a profound influence on adult health.

“Adult health is more influenced by events and conditions in early childhood and even before birth than was ever imagined in the not too distant past,” the statement says. “Health promotion and disease prevention programs targeted at adults would be more effective if investments were also made early in life on the origins of those diseases and behaviours.”

The position statement also notes that Canada lags far behind other countries in terms of early childhood education and care. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development currently ranks Canada as tied for last place among 25 countries evaluated for early childhood development.