More than two million parents and caregivers have turned to PlunketLine when they have needed help and advice on the health and wellbeing of their child or whānau.
The free 24/7 telephone support service celebrates 25 years today and is providing more support in more ways, as well as being the trusted first point of call for parents for a range of issues relating to young children.
“It could be as simple as supporting a first-time parent, unsure if their baby is unwell, or helping a parent who’s been up much of the night with a child who won’t sleep. We know the clinical guidance and support of our PlunketLine nurses has also saved young children’s lives,” Plunket Chief Executive Amanda Malu says.
Speaking at a function at its call centre in Wellington attended by the Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern and Associate Minister of Health Hon Julie Anne Genter, Ms Malu says PlunketLine is a truly universal service that is whānau-centred and accessible to all New Zealanders.
“We are extremely proud of PlunketLine and know how much parents, whānau and caregivers value and trust the service.
“We’re also excited with the way the service is evolving to better meet needs and to deliver more, especially for our most vulnerable and isolated.”
Ms Malu says Plunket is unique with its access to families and is one of the few trusted organisations invited into people’s homes.
“It’s Plunket that many families and whānau turn to in times of need - and PlunketLine plays a key role in this with the service available 24/7 across 365 days of the year.”
PlunketLine Manager Denise Shera says PlunketLine receives an average of 300 calls each day and more than 100,000 calls each year.
Now with 45 staff and operating from four centres, she says the key to PlunketLine’s success is the listening skills of its nursing staff.
“We receive maternal mental health calls and emergency calls and, as we can’t see our clients, the listening skills of our nurses becomes the key to providing the valuable information they need.
“People won’t ring us if they don’t have a need, and the client is always in control – they can end the call at any time, so it is the skill of the nurse to keep that call going to ensure appropriate support is provided.”
Ms Shera says PlunketLine has often led the response in major events – like the infant formula botulism scare, the Canterbury earthquake and the 1080 poison events.
“The current measles outbreak is an example of how PlunketLine is using new tools to respond when issues arise, hosting a live Facebook Chat to deliver vital information to answer hundreds of parents concerns.”
PlunketLine’s longest-serving nurse Anne Norton, who joined the service in October 1994, says being able to help parents as part of a great team has made the role satisfying and enjoyable.
Ms Norton says the introduction of a video conference breastfeeding service, funded by the Wright Family Foundation, last year has been rewarding. “Last week I had a call from a tearful mother who had been referred to our breastfeeding service. I set up a call for her baby’s next feed, which she was dreading due to severe nipple pain. This dilemma of wanting to do the best for your beloved baby and yet fearing picking them up for the next feed is a huge challenge and incredibly distressing to women.
“We spent 45 minutes on the call together and the following day I rang her to find things had improved immeasurably. We put in place an ongoing plan and she, like all families, can access our service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Photo: Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Associate Minister of Health Hon Julie Anne Genter, PlunketLine nurse Anne Norton and Isla, whose mother credits PlunketLine with saving her life, cut the cake to celebrate PlunketLine's 25th birthday.
For more details please contact Plunket’s media adviser: 04 460 4680 or email@example.com