Developing young minds
Assessing a child's development from the age of four months allows nursery nurses to address any problems which are proving difficult for parents to deal with. As part of a series of A Day In The Life features, health reporter Katie Blackburn spent time with North East Lincolnshire nursery nurses Helen Holden and Helen Emmerson to find out more ...
WITH ten years' experience as a nursery nurse, Helen Holden can identify the progression a child should be making at a certain age.
Unlike health visitors, nursery nurses do not have to be qualified nurses to carry out their role.
This is because their skills are used in monitoring the development of a child rather than assessing their health needs.
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However if there are any health issues that need addressing, then nursery nurses will liaise closely with the relevant health visitor.
This week, the Grimsby Telegraph is highlighting the work of health professionals who deal with children.
Today, we are featuring Helen Holden and fellow nursery nurse Helen Emmerson.
Nursery nurses first come into contact with a child when they are four months old and continue to monitor their development through certain ages.
These are called core "contacts" and happen when the child is eight months, two years old and three-and-a-half years old.
Helen, like other nursery nurses, will look for specific signs when doing a development check.
Helen said: "At four months we make our initial contact with a family. Following this we will see the child again at eight months, where we will look to see if they are sitting or standing and whether they can hold their head up.
"At the age of two we begin assessing their speech but if this is not progressing then we will work closely with parents and also involve children centres to work with them on this matter until their next core contact at three-and-a-half years old.
"If their speech has still not progressed by this age, then we can refer them to speech and language specialists at Grimsby's Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital."
As well as monitoring a child's development, nursery nurses will also support parents in offering advice and guidance on either breast feeding or creating a sleeping plan.
Other areas, such as behavioural issues or dietary needs, can also be addressed.
Helen, who is based at Weelsby View Health Centre, in Ladysmith Road, Grimsby, works with children around the East Marsh and outlying areas such as New Waltham and Humberston.
On a rotational basis, part of her role is to assist with baby clinics where parents can drop in to get their children measured or weighed and seek general advice.
Helen said: "I work with families in the deprived areas of Grimsby so my job does not come without its challenges.
"One of these challenges is when parents do not turn up for their core contact development checks and I am left waiting until my next appointment comes along.
"Normally we give families two appointments to attend the children centre but if this fails we look to arrange a home visit.
"Although this is the difficult part of my job, I love working with families and helping a parent to cope better with intervention."
Helen Emmerson, has worked as a nursery nurse for the past nine years and is based at Nunsthorpe and Bradley Park Children's Centre, in Sutcliffe Avenue, Grimsby.
She wanted to highlight the Mini Rhyme Time sessions which other nursery nurses organise across the borough, although Helen does not run one of these herself.
She said: "Parents bring their children, from newborn to six months of age, and sit together in a circle with other families.
"Here, a nursery nurse will get everyone to introduce themselves and their children to the group and highlight problems that may have arisen since the last session. After this everyone sings nursery rhymes before a health topic is chosen to discuss for the remainder of the session. It is really important to start developing a child's mind from an early age.
"The session also helps parents to socialise as postnatal depression is common condition. Interaction can help eradicate this problem."
Helen loves the work she does, especially being able to see parents go on to have more children, knowing the support she provides has helped them to do this.
She said: "I love working in the community and being able to make a difference in families' lives."