Case conferences help public health nurses help families

October 27, 2014

nurse-family partnershipAs a Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) nurse supervisor with Fraser Heath, Monica Smith* understands that participants — disadvantaged young women preparing to parent for the first time — can face some challenging life situations. And these challenges can have an impact on the nurses helping them.

That’s why Smith’s team of eight public health nurses holds a case conference every two weeks. The value? To allow nurses to provide expertise and support for each other.

“One of the nurses on my team recently said ‘this is the most worthwhile thing I’ve done because it helps me really understand my clients’,” Smith recalls.

Preparing for the case conference is a big job in itself. The public health nurse must fill out a detailed form describing the young mothers in detail and assessing their risks, goals and plans in a variety of areas.

At the conference itself, which acts like a large brainstorming session, the nurse asks for help in areas in which she — or the young participant — may be stuck or struggling. “It’s a way that really connects that nurse to the larger group of nurses,” Smith says. “It’s very empowering. These young women are not alone and these nurses are not alone.”

Smith says her team experiences an enormous amount of heartache, as a result of the challenging life conditions faced by the young moms or moms-to-be. “It’s hard to experience that sadness,” she says. “If we didn’t come together to share that, I don’t think we’d be able to continue.”

At a recent case conference, the team focused on resiliency. Smith was particularly proud of a metaphor one of the nurses articulated, comparing resiliency to a willow tree. “It’s able to stretch and bend and then come back to almost the same shape, but changed,” she says. This resiliency, in turn, enables nurses to better help the young mothers (and the children) through the BC Healthy Connections Project.

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 details on how to reach public health and determine eligibility for the BCHCP.

*The nurse supervisor’s name has been changed to ensure privacy.