Working in partnership with vulnerable families: the experience of child and family health practitioners

Publisher:
CSIRO Publishing
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Australian Journal of Primary Health, 2011, 17 (4), pp. 378 - 383
Issue Date:
2011-11-15
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Abstract.Family circumstances in infancy are persistent and powerful determinants of childrenâs physical and mental health, influencing inequalities that trace from childhood through to adulthood. While the social factors that perpetuate patterns of inequality are more complex than can be addressed through single interventions, child and family health (CFH) services represent crucial sites where trajectories of inequality can be disrupted. In particular, approaches that foster opportunities for practitionerâparent engagement that challenge traditional hierarchical health care practice, such as the Family Partnership Model (FPM), are recommended as ways of addressing disadvantage. Little is known about how practitioners implement models of working in partnership with families and, consequently, there is a gap in understanding how best to develop and sustain these new CFH practices. This paper reports a research project that investigated the experiences of 25 health professionals working within a FPM framework with vulnerable families. Through discussion of four key themes â redefining expertise, changing practices, establishing new relationships with parents and the complexities of partnership practice â the paper offers first-hand accounts of reframing practices that recognise the needs, skills and expertise of parents and thus contribute to empowerment of families.
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