New website launched to support family-focused healthcare in UK & Ireland

Covid-19 has seen more families caring for loved ones with acute illnesses. Now a new website has been launched to highlight and support the role of family-focussed healthcare in the UK and Ireland. 

On 25 November 2020, representatives from the International Family Nursing Association’s (IFNA) UK & Ireland Chapter – which includes academics from the University of Plymouth, Sheffield Hallam University and Dublin City University – launched the free website, ifnaukandireland.org, for healthcare practitioners and families to share and learn about best practice when supporting families. 

Family nursing, midwifery and community care focus on promoting health and wellbeing by supporting families to develop their own resources to become resilient, adaptable and cope with health-related life challenges. This can range from midwives helping new expectant couples to make the transition to parenthood, through to nurses, health visitors and public health nurses supporting families who are providing end-of-life care or caring for loved ones with acute illnesses or long-term conditions such as dementia, asthma and long Covid.

It is hoped the website will lead to more collaborative work being carried out in this area, which in turn will inform and influence Government guidelines in the UK and Ireland around the importance of family nursing as part of the care pathway. 

Professor in Nursing at the University of Plymouth, Sarah Neill, said: 

“I am delighted to be able to share information about the launch of the new website for the UK & Ireland Chapter of the International Family Nursing Association, the first local chapter of the Association. At this moment in time the focus on families and family nursing is extremely important as so many are caring for family members at home during the pandemic.”

Co-lead of the IFNA UK & Ireland Chapter, Professor Veronica Swallow, an expert in child and family nursing and healthcare at Sheffield Hallam University and President Elect of the International Family Nursing Association, said: 

“In the UK, there is no formal recognition of the importance of families in healthcare, and the care they experience when supporting a loved one through illness or at other times of healthcare support need, is highly variable. Nurses, midwives, health visitors and public health nurses vary widely in their views about the importance of families in healthcare provision, and this is despite the evidence which shows that actively intervening to support families results in a better experience and improved outcomes for patients, clients and family members. 

"In the midst of a global pandemic in which more and more families are having to care for loved ones with long-term health conditions, it is now more important than ever that we explore the more active role that all healthcare practitioners can and often do take in considering and caring for families to improve health outcomes. This website has been designed to bring family nursing to the forefront and allow for a more consistent level of care and support for families in line with other parts of the world.”

Professor Veronica Lambert, co-lead of the IFNA UK and Ireland Chapter and professor of children and family nursing at Dublin City University, said: 

"The launch of this website marks an important milestone for the IFNA UK & Ireland Chapter, the first local chapter of IFNA established in 2017, to actively advance practice, policy, research and education towards relational and family systems approaches to care. Implementing family-focused nursing, midwifery and community public health interventions is critical to healthcare reform and to family health and healing outcomes. The website offers an opportunity for nurses, midwives, public health nurses, patients/clients, caregivers, family members, academics, and researchers to join a growing community to establish a discourse around family-focused care and influence family nursing in Ireland and the UK.”

Membership of the Chapter and access to the website are free of charge. All healthcare practitioners, patients, clients and those caring for a loved one are encouraged to register via https://ifnaukandireland.org/membership.

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