Keeping western Sydney parents connected to healthcare during COVID-19 lockdown

Simone Fonti and baby Mischa

“Forever grateful” is how Simone Fonti describes her experience with Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Child and Family Health Nursing Service.

Simone gave birth prematurely in May this year and never could have imagined that Sydney would go into strict state-wide lockdown a month later.

“There were restrictions in place when I gave birth to Mischa. She ended up staying in the neonatal intensive care unit for about 3 weeks, and then by the time we were ready to go home, we pretty much went into strict stay-at-home orders,” the mum-of-two explained.

With health restrictions in place, WSLHD Child and Family Health Nursing Services have worked tirelessly to overcome barriers and ensure all new parents are connected to Child and Family Health services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Child and Family Health nursing team continues to provide essential support to new parents and parents with a child or children aged 0-5 via telephone consultations or video conferencing. 

Simone and Mischa undergoing a telehealth appointment with Child and Family Health nurse Fiona Sinclair

Simone and her partner Steve started undergoing regular telehealth appointments with their Child and Family Health nurse to ensure everyone was doing well and settling in at home.

“You could tell that they weren’t only concerned about the baby, but they were concerned about both mine and Steve’s welfare as well,” Simone said.

“We are currently home-schooling our other child, and we aren’t able to have the support of our family and friends.

“Without the telehealth service offered by the Child and Family Health team, we would be lost.

I am so grateful for these appointments and feel truly blessed that we are still able to receive great quality and reliable care during these times.

Child and Family Health nurses discuss healthy child growth and development, self-care, provide parenting support and guidance with breastfeeding, infant and child feeding, safe sleep, settling strategies, parent-child activities and positive parenting practices that help parents provide safe nurturing environments for their children.

WSLHD Child and Family Health clinical nurse consultant Jennifer Mulligan said this service might be the only contact parents have with our health service system during such a challenging time.

“We truly want to do everything we can to support the children and families of western Sydney,” Jennifer said.

“The impact of COVID-19 has meant that many parents don’t have the in-person support of extended family, friends and neighbours, which can affect their wellbeing.

“Child and Family Health nurses not only look after children’s physical health but also support the emotional wellbeing of parents and provide parents with options to join a variety of online parenting groups.”

“Phone consultations and virtual care can be just as helpful as face-to-face care. A connection to qualified health professionals and peers is essential in supporting the parenting journey.” 

In western Sydney, new parents are contacted at home after the birth of their child.

All parents and carers can contact a local Community Health Centre if they need support or assistance.

Parents can request our services by phoning the Central Referral Service on 1800 600 681.