Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust’s (SHFT) Health Visiting Service has launched ChatHealth 0-5, a text messaging service to support parents, carers and families of under 5’s in Hampshire. The aim is to improve access to health information and support for families caring for babies and young children.
With more and more people using hand held mobile devices in their daily lives, the ChatHealth 0-5 text service is an easy way for parents and carers to ask for help and information with a range of issues. The service is run by local health visitors who have a wealth of experience of working with mums and dads-to-be, babies, toddlers and young children.
ChatHealth 0-5 is available now and allows parents and carers in Hampshire to send text messages to a dedicated number 07520 615720; the messages are then delivered to a secure website. Once received, the SHFT health visiting service will be able to provide a response to the text at the latest within one working day.
ChatHealth 0-5 is available Monday to Thursday from 9am-4.30 pm, and Fridays 9am to 4pm (excluding bank holidays). Anyone who texts the service outside of these hours will receive an automated message with advice of where to get help if their question requires a speedy response.
The Health Visiting Team are able to provide support with questions from parents, carers and families relating to a wide range of health and wellbeing issues including crying babies, infant feeding, starting baby on solid foods, sleep and behaviour problems. As well as giving advice, the team can signpost to appropriate services and other support.
Parents are still able to speak directly or see a Health Visitor face to face in baby clinic or at home.
Although the service is confidential and parents do not need to disclose their name, if they choose to we will be able to access their child’s records directly to give the advice. If there is a concern for a child’s safety, there are safeguarding procedures in place.
Parents have said how much they are looking forward to the service ‘instant help at the end of the phone’.
To text the service parents and carers should send their message to: 07520 615720.
Councillor Patricia Stallard, Executive Member for Public Health at Hampshire County Council, which commissions the service, said, “We are really excited to see the launch of the new ChatHealth service for Hampshire parents. This new service provides a quick and easy way to access information and advice which is particularly important for parents and carers of very young children. They can ask about a variety of topics such as sleep, growth and development, parenting, breast or bottle feeding, diet and nutrition, and behaviour – by accessing this service, in some cases visits to the GP may not be required.”
Ginny Taylor, Head of Children and Family Services at SHFT, said, “ ChatHealth 11-16 for Hampshire’s secondary school age children has been run by SHFT school nursing service for 2 years and has had huge success in providing somewhere for over 6,000 children and young people to go for help and support in the past 12 months. Launching ChatHealth 0-5 builds on this success and is an exciting opportunity to make health information more easily accessible for parents and carers of pre-school children. ChatHealth 0-5 will help parents and carers get responsive advice and support via their phones from our local health visitors via their smart phones when they have a query about their child’s health and wellbeing.”