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Supporting our youngest Kiwis

 Well Child Tamariki Ora is a programme of health assessments and support services for all New Zealand children from birth to five years, and their families, funded by the Ministry of Health.

Well Child supports parents and caregivers to care for their child’s health so our youngest Kiwis can reach their potential. It’s a vital gateway to primary and specialist health care, education and social services.

Midwifery care during pregnancy and care during the early weeks of a baby’s life is transitioned to the Well Child provider. The Well Child schedule is delivered with families by a range of health professionals including trained nurses and health workers. These practitioners may be employed by Plunket, a Māori or Pacific Well Child provider, a General Practice team or a Public Health service.

 “TAS’s role is to support and project manage the quality improvement cycles across the lower North Island Well Child programmes,” explains Craig Moore, Project Adviser – Quality Improvement at TAS, the organisation charged with helping to facilitate the programme for the Central Region District Health Board. “Our key focus is to support the innovators and improvers to quickly test their good ideas using proven quality improvement methods to improve access to the services provided by the Well Child Tamariki Ora system,” he says. “For example, we recently helped Plunket partner with the ‘Bee Healthy’ Dental Service in the Hutt Valley by bringing the dental therapist to the Plunket clinic for toddlers and their parents to visit for check-ups. This meant parents only had to bring their child to one appointment rather than two. The day was a real success,” Craig says. Similar days are planned for the future.

Recently Craig and his colleague, Stephanie Calder, have helped three District Health Boards develop and test their services for new breastfeeding mums.  Breast milk is free, provides the best start to life and helps protect babies from developing conditions like eczema and allergies later in life.  “We used a quality improvement tool, called a driver diagram, to help consumers, midwives, lactation consultants and Well Child nurses to identify all the parts of the system. We then helped test their ideas: what flyers, bookmarks and information resources they use and trying different ways of training nurses in general breastfeeding support.” 

 “One of the benefits of TAS’s role in the programme is that we have staff who understand the Well Child contract inside out, we have developed collaborative relationships with DHBs and we have the know-how on running change programmes,” Craig says. “We are now spreading this knowledge among others in TAS and the Well Child sector by facilitating the NHS’ School for Change Agents using Skype.”

Wendy Allen, a Plunket Clinical Leader in Hawkes Bay, works closely with Craig and agrees with these sentiments. She says “having Craig as an independent and objective facilitator with a good understanding of the Well Child schedule and with a quality focus has supported effective collaboration across agencies. Craig’s unbiased approach broke down barriers that had historically inhibited change and growth in improving child health outcomes through a collaborative approach in this area.” 

Facts + statistics

  • There are 16 Well Child Tamariki Ora contract holders in the Central region
  • Well Child Tamariki Ora is free
  • 8,709 babies in the Central Region are enrolled in a WCTO provider
  • Around 95% of babies receive a Well Child Tamariki Ora service
  • Each year, Central Region Well Child Providers delivered almost 53,000 core contacts.  That’s 203 children between Wairoa, Raetihi and Wellington every work day!