Young people, parents and carers can now ‘chat health’ with school nurses or health visitors thanks to a simple new text messaging service.
Somerset’s Public Health Nursing service has boosted its health and wellbeing advice with the launch of ‘ChatHealth’, an award-winning digital NHS approved platform.
ChatHealth allows Public Health Nursing teams across the country to reach out to their local communities – and Somerset County Council is delighted it can now offer this service across the county.
Parents, carers and families of under-fives can seek confidential advice and support on a range of concerns, such as infant feeding and nutrition and parenting and child development, from their local health visiting team by text.
Parents and carers with children and young people aged five to 19 will also be able to text the local school nursing team in the same way for parenting advice and support.
Young people aged 11-19 across the county will be able to find confidential advice and support from their local school nursing service on a range of health and wellbeing issues, including bullying, relationships and emotional health, by text.
This new service, a winner of the NHS Innovation Challenge Award, can provide advice, information and guidance, and signpost to other services if needed. It does not replace face to face services but will make it easier to get in touch with Public Health Nursing confidentially and anonymously. It also offers a way to get in touch for those who feel reluctant to talk about difficult or sensitive issues.
Councillor Clare Paul, Cabinet member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Children, young people and parents have often told us that they want to be able to access support through digital means when they need it, without having to go and see someone, travel to a health venue or having to worry about what their friends or family think. Now they can access confidential advice, information and guidance at the touch of a button from specially trained nurses who have their health and wellbeing at the heart of everything they do.”
Jo Smith, Head of Public Health Nursing Somerset, said: “Our Health Visitors have a wealth of experience working with mums and dads-to-be, babies, toddlers and young children, and our School Nurses with parents and young people 5-19 years of age.
“Having the addition of ChatHealth will enable our teams to respond to parents, carers, families and young people making it even easier for them to access the information and support they need digitally as well as the usual methods we currently deliver. This is a really positive step in our local transformation programme for Public Health Nursing, demonstrating a commitment by all partners involved to better respond to the needs of parents, children and young people in an innovative and timely way.”
The ChatHealth service is available Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, including school holidays and excluding bank holidays.
Anyone sending a text outside these hours, will receive an automated message with advice on where to get help if they require it urgently. When the service reopens the sender will then receive a reply to the message.
ChatHealth runs alongside the normal Public Health Nursing Service. Contact details are:
- Health Visiting under-fives Parent Service – 07480 635514
- School Nursing 5 – 19 Parent Service – 07480 635515
- School Nursing 11 – 19 Young People’s Service – 07480 635516
*ChatHealth is a registered trademark of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust