A home care visiting scheme pioneered by University of New South Wales researchers that helps vulnerable pregnant women has been so successful in Sydney that it’s going global.

The Maternal Early Childhood Sustained Home-visiting (MECSH) program began a decade ago in south-western Sydney and involves nurses regularly going into the homes of pregnant women to help them as they prepare for parenthood and to support them until their child turns two.

Program leader Associate Professor Lynn Kemp says the program has helped women in Sydney and is now being introduced around New South Wales as part of the NSW Health Sustaining NSW Families program, as well as Essex in England. Other English counties are preparing to introduce the program and other countries, including Korea and Brazil, have expressed interest in MECSH.

Associate Professor Kemp says the visits are supporting pregnant women and helping them cope with parenting and child development, with educational activities provided as needed.

The program began by targeting families at risk of poorer maternal and child health development outcomes and focused on mothers living in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.

However in Essex, the program will be delivered to thousands of women regardless of their socio-economic status.

“If, when you are psychosocially assessed in pregnancy, you are found to have a level of distress for whatever reason, you will be given the MECSH program,” Associate Professor Kemp says.

MECSH program details can be viewed here.

Media contact: Linda McSweeny I UNSW Media I 02 9385 8107, 0414 809 120