Preface: February 2021
The year 2020 was extraordinary in so many ways. It was dominated by the COVID pandemic, which wrought destruction and despair across the world, including in Scotland. "Normal" life as we knew it was paused. And many projects and initiatives, including the publication of this document, were put on hold.
But 2020 will hopefully also be remembered for other things. It was the World Health Organization Year of the Nurse and Midwife, a celebration and acknowledgement of the vital role these professionals play across the globe in preserving life and sustaining communities, a message that has been reinforced many times during the COVID crisis. And in Scotland, it was also the 10th anniversary of the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme.
Just weeks before Scotland went into lockdown due to COVID, the First Minister attended a special celebratory event to mark the FNP anniversary. She recounted how as health secretary she had met with the founder of the programme, Professor David Olds, to speak with him about how the programme worked, then announced its introduction as a pilot project in Scotland. Now, 10 years later, she paid tribute to the dedication of Scotland's family nurses who have helped to change the lives of thousands of mothers and children and had made a huge difference not just to the families they worked with, but to society as a whole.
Then, a few weeks later, lockdown came. Only essential services were running and some FNP staff were pulled to assist other emergency services. Yet family nurses have continued to deliver the programme to all clients throughout the pandemic, with 44,000 visits taking place between March 2020 and January 2021. The programme moved to an online/near-me service with client visits being held virtually – a new way of working for staff and clients. Around half of the visits were completed via a form of telehealth intervention. Education for family nurses has also moved to online delivery.
The family nurses have battled through this tough year in the face of extraordinary challenges, continuing to care for some of the most vulnerable young mothers and children in society. The nurses' support has been fundamental in guiding them through this unprecedented and challenging time, with excellent outcomes continuing to be achieved.
It is right, therefore, that Scotland still has the opportunity to celebrate the success of the FNP programme, now in its 11th year, despite the pandemic. That is what this document is all about.
"Working with young parents with very young children can be magical. Witnessing a relationship forming between a parent and a child is a privilege. Observing a young parent bloom from adolescence to adulthood is remarkable. And graduating a client who no longer requires you in their life feels like the best reward in the world." Family nurse
This collection has been completed from testimonies provided to the Scottish Government by Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) nurses across Scotland.
It does not attempt to provide a formal appraisal of the impacts of these specialist nurses, but instead explores the FNP nurses' motivations, aspirations, achievements and challenges in the role as they see them. It reflects the real-life experience of being an FNP nurse, in their own words.