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Better Start Bradford is supporting the implementation of the Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home Visiting (MECSH) programme with health visitors from Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust (BDCFT) in the Better Start Bradford area and Bradford East area.

MECSH was designed in Australia to provide structured support to families at risk of poorer maternal and child health development outcomes, delivered by the health visiting service. It has already been implemented in the south of England with Bradford being the first site in the north to implement it.

The programme has a structured visiting schedule with core modules to work through with parents, based on the best evidence, to enable the child to grow, develop and reach their milestones. Modules include learning to communicate, promoting first relationships and healthy beginnings.

One module being incorporated into the Bradford model is HABIT (Health visitors delivering Advice in Britain on Infant Toothbrushing). This was devised locally by Dr Peter Day (Professor and Consultant in Paediatric Dentistry at Leeds University) and promotes good oral health for toddlers and children to prevent tooth decay, missing and filled teeth - a major issue for children in Bradford. The HENRY  programme, which supports the whole family to make positive lifestyle changes, will also be promoted to ensure families benefit from other activities and support available in their local area.

Health visitors were initially trained in February 2020, but implementation of the programme was delayed due to COVID-19. There have since been changes to the health visiting delivery model and work has taken place around how to deliver MECSH alongside the new model. It was decided to pilot MECSH in Bradford East, with training for the health visiting teams in this area currently being organised. Work is also underway to look at how the work will be evaluated with the Innovation Hub alongside colleagues at Better Start Bradford and BDCFT.

Delivery started in April 2021 - great news for families in Bradford East.

For more information, please contact Edwina Lintin: [email protected]