‘We all have the same concerns…’

June 1, 2015

Nurse-family PartnershipAs a scientific interviewer, Elsa Langdon* now regularly meets with people she wouldn’t otherwise have the privilege of knowing.

Her role, as part of the BC Healthy Connections Project (BCHCP) — a scientific study evaluating the Nurse-Family Partnership program — puts her face to face with young women who’ve dealt with a variety of life experiences. Some have not always had all the supports they needed. Some are living on low income. Some have struggled with finishing school, or with health problems. And now they’re pregnant for the first time.

An intensive child and maternal health program, Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) gives 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. The BCHCP is the first Canadian scientific evaluation of this program.

Says Langdon: “It’s been amazing to me to see how strong these women are. Despite all the challenges they face, they still have so much hope for the future. That’s had a big impact on me.”

Langdon’s job is to speak with all participants in the study (only 50% receive Nurse-Family Partnership; the remainder receive existing health and social services) and track their experiences about being new mothers over two-and-half years.

What has struck Langdon the most is how much she has in common with these women. “A realization that’s been slowly washing over me is this sense of how similar we all are,” she says. “If you read about their lives on a piece of paper you may think, ‘They’re so different from me. We have nothing in common.’ But when I sit down and talk [to them], I realize they have the same worries, the same concerns that I do.”

She has also been surprised by the enthusiasm of the participants. “At the beginning I didn’t expect that,” she says. “We were taking up a lot of time and asking a lot of questions. I thought we’d be more of a burden.” Instead, the women taking part often express their gratitude, saying that being in the study gives them a voice. One young woman, in particular, said it made her “feel she was part of something that was bigger,” Langdon says. “It was great to know she saw it as a positive thing.”

Note that Nurse-Family Partnership 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.