Maternity and child health services to support families with children
The goal of the assessment
The main focus of the assessment was on whether families with children had been sufficiently supported in maternity and child health services. Maternity and child health services are statutory health services that are voluntary and free of charge to clients. The 2021–2025 City Strategy aims to provide multidisciplinary support to families and invest in early and comprehensive support.
In Helsinki, families are offered periodic health examinations in accordance with the Decree on Maternity and Child Health Clinic Services. The coverage of health examinations in Helsinki’s maternity and child health clinics can be considered good. The majority of pregnant individuals have extensive health examinations, and for children, the coverage of comprehensive health examinations has generally been more than 90% annually. Special needs are identified early at the maternity and child health clinic, especially during pregnancy and the first year of the infant’s life, when there is frequent monitoring. However, in the public health nurse survey, more than half thought that continuity of care was not always achieved for families in maternity and child health clinics, and other support was not always available quickly enough. There has especially been a shortage of substance abuse, mental health and family counselling services, and social guidance.
In Helsinki, family services are concentrated in family centres. These family centres have aimed to improve cooperation between different professional groups. The facilities of physically centralised family centres do not fully serve maternity and child health work, as the nurses do not have their own offices, and there is a shortage of rooms. Reserving rooms and moving from one room to another has been perceived as a factor that reduces the attractiveness of working in maternity and child health services.
the Social Services, Health Care and Rescue Services Division should
- strengthen practices that support the continuity of care in maternity and child health clinics.
- improve families’ access to other services they need, such as substance abuse and mental health services, family counselling services and social guidance.
- strengthen multidisciplinary cooperation and the flow of information between different social and health services in family centres to support families.
- develop the facilities of family centres to serve maternity and child health work better.