Embracing diversity in community healthcare settings: developing a client-centred approach to weaning support

Embracing diversity within a multi-ethnic and multi-faith population is an ongoing challenge for healthcare practitioners who seek to deliver patient centred care. This paper presents an account of a pilot scheme intended to provide client-centred help with weaning to 30 British Bangladeshi families through a specially trained support worker (infant feeding advisor). The infant feeding advisor visited each family at their home a minimum of five times during the weaning period, the final visit being when the child was one year old. Following the completion of the intervention, each family was visited by the project health visitor to evaluate progress. Evaluation showed that, in the majority of families, the pilot scheme was helpful. Parents’ responses appeared to indicate that one of the benefits of employing infant feeding advisors who were empathetic and knowledgeable about the culture of the families, and who had the relevant language skills, was a more effective exchange of health information and improved dialogue between the client and practitioner. Women, both mothers and grandmothers, showed an increased acceptance and use of health information, suggesting that the encouragement of a client-centred approach should be given priority in the development of new services. This pilot demonstrates that the development of patient centred services achieves not only improvements in health but also increased awareness of health issues among a diverse population.

Author(s): Sara Smith, Gurch Randhawa

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