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Publication details

Postprint of: Fraser, JA, Hutchinson, M, Appleton, J 2016, 'Nurses’ experiences of home visiting new parents in rural and regional communities in Australia: a descriptive qualitative study', Journal of Childrens Services, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 204-216.

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Peer Reviewed



Purpose – Child and family health (CAFH) services in Australia initially provide at least one nurse-home-visit following the birth of a child. Planning and referral then commences for the on-going provision of appropriate services to families. Unfortunately, services in rural and regional communities in Australia can be fragmented and poorly resourced. Little is known about CAFH nurses’ experiences of working with families in these communities. The purpose of this paper is to examine the way CAFH nurses work within a universal health service model that may be compromised by isolation, discontinuity and fragmentation.

Design/methodology/approach – Focus groups with 26 CAFH nurses from five rural, two regional and one urban community in New South Wales (NSW), Australia were conducted. A secondary, thematic analysis of the qualitative data were undertaken to reflect on change and continuity in the field of universal CAFH services. Analysis was driven by two key research questions: How do CAFH nurses experience their role in universal home-based CAFH services within rural and regional areas of Australia and, what unique factors are present in rural and regional areas that impact on their CAFH nursing role?

Findings – The experience of the CAFH nurses as presented by these data revealed a role that was family centred and concerned for the welfare of the family, yet compromised by the need to meet the disproportionately complex needs of families in the absence of a strong network of services. The opportunity to present the findings provides insight into the way in which families engage with available services in isolated communities. CAFH nurses in the study attempted to maintain service integrity by adapting to the unique context of their work.

Originality/value – It is important to understand the mechanisms through which CAFH nurses operate to work effectively with families referred to their service. This paper describes the way in which CAFH nurses work with families not meeting the threshold for more intensive and targeted home-visiting service delivery in rural and regional communities of NSW, Australia.

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