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Plunket home visits move online during Covid-19 lockdown

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For 100 years, Kiwi parents have relied on the service for advice and support. Source: 1 NEWS

For years Kiwi parents have relied on a visit from Plunket for advice and support with their new babies, but under lockdown home consultations have moved online.

Plunket nurses and parents are instead having appointments over video call to keep up to date.

“The big thing is that Plunket is still open for business but of course in a Covid-19 restriction situation, we've had to change the way we're delivering,” said chief executive Amanda Malu.

Introducing virtual consultations is something the organisation already had in the pipeline. The move was fast-tracked under Alert Level Four rules.

Plunket nurse Carolyn Wood says the shift to video or phone calls has been received well by her clients.

“I’ve only had really positive feedback. Everyone’s been grateful and supportive, and understanding of the current environment. And I think they feel that Plunket is doing its best to meet their needs.”

She says even without being in the home, nursing skills and assessments mean it’s easy to pick up if anything is wrong or needs addressing.

“You are on alert and there's lots of things you're using. When you're on the phone, you've only got your ears, which is fine, that becomes really well tuned. But it's good with Zoom to have a visual as well, to get a bit of a picture.”

The new consultations mean parents are a lot more involved in their baby’s check-ups, now looking at their newborn through the eyes of a Plunket nurse.

“[A virtual consultation] draws on all of the skill of a Plunket nurse in that situation, to have the right conversation. And certainly what we're hearing is it's enabling parents to look differently and look for different things in their babies,” said Ms Malu.

Plimmerton dad Junior Davy has found the virtual appointments are just as good as having them in person.

“There’s not really much of a difference, you still get what you need, still get the advice. I’m just happy they’re still up and running. Everyone needs that help.”

Ms Malu said there’s plans to continue offering virtual appointments to parents even once New Zealand’s coronavirus restrictions ease.

“I think this gives parents some choice which is great. It also means that we can offer a bit of a mix and match for what works and when. And certainly, if parents are in different situations. Some parents are working parents and this might be a service they could participate in in the evenings for example.”

Whichever way the service is received, Plunket is confident it’s still delivering the standard it always has.

“It might not be ideal, but it’s still a way to connect. It’s the Plunket you know and love, definitely.”