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Video consultations proving a great success for Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service

An innovative way to ensure families get the help they need during lockdown from Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service (ECFWS) has been given top marks by people across the county.

The organisation led the way by bringing in online consultations and group video sessions for many of its important services at the start of the pandemic allowing them to continue.

These include secure one-to-one video appointments from health visitors, pediatricians, family support workers and school nurses as well as the text messaging service CHAThealth, where young people can anonymously ask advice on a range of issues.

And virtual group sessions are also being held for antenatal, infant feeding, school readiness and parent emotional wellbeing support.

Now online feedback from those that have used each service since lockdown began shows 80 per cent  have given the help they get five stars – the highest mark available. A further 15 per cent have awarded the services they have accessed four stars.

Changing to online sessions so quickly has allowed ECFWS to continue delivering high quality help to the communities it serves – which they understandably expect – while minimising infection risks by postponing face to face contact

Richard Comerford, Managing Director at ECFWS, said: “In line with national guidance, we have had to carefully, but speedily adapt how we deliver some of our services during the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard the safety and welfare of our service users and colleagues. This has included minimising face-to-face contact with some of the families that we work with.

“Virtual consultations, such as those carried out over first-class video technology, are helping guarantee not just safety, but also quality and efficiency of receiving support because one-to-one and group sessions usually require service users to visit Family Hubs or health visitors to enter other people’s households. It is so important that we continue our service and create a platform for our service users to talk to other people going through similar experiences which should provide some welcome extra support at this difficult time.

“With ECFWS, we are always looking to improve what we do. With that in mind, we’ve been asking service users for their feedback after each video consultation. Sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive to date, with over 90% of service users rating their experience 4 or 5 stars. This makes me incredibly excited for the future and the ways we may continue to deliver an excellent service in new and innovative ways.”

Adrian Coggins, a commissioner at Essex County Council, added: “We felt well-prepared to deliver a good response to COVID-19. The pioneering journey that ECFWS and Essex County Council is taking in defining target groups and outcomes, and prioritising efforts accordingly, has stood us in good stead in supporting those who are most vulnerable and need support for their wellbeing during COVID-19”.

Rosalind French, Head of Children, Young People & Maternity Commissioning at West Essex CCG, said: “It is incredibly positive that virtual consultations have allowed children and young people in West Essex to continue to receive vital support from their community practitioners to address their health care needs throughout this pandemic.

“The Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service has played a valuable role in keeping our communities safe and well.”

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