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Jess’ story: moving to Sheffield, health visiting, and being the parent of a patient

Jess sat in her garden smiling at the camera
25 May 2023

This is Jess, and if you’ve welcomed a new baby into your home then you might recognise her friendly face.

Jess is our Specialist Public Health and Antenatal Lead Practitioner in the 0-19 Service.

It was a natural fit for Jess, who qualified as a Nurse before completing an MSc in Sociology and Healthcare and developing a keen interest in health inequalities and prevention.

Jess said: “I see the health visiting role as promoting the physical and emotional health and wellbeing of children and their families during those crucial first 1001 days when babies’ brains are developing. We aim to give them the best start in life.”

This support starts even before a baby is born. Jess is involved in the running of the Preparation for Birth and Beyond (PBB) course. This is a free five-week antenatal course delivered by fully qualified and experienced midwives, health visitors and infant feeding peer support workers.

Jess said: “PBB is aimed at first-time parents.  We discuss the importance of building a relationship with your baby, bonding and attachment, and promoting the physical and emotional wellbeing of baby and parents. New parents usually want information on infant feeding and what to expect at the birth and delivery and that’s also included in the sessions.  It’s also great for soon-to-be parents to get to know each other and build support networks. We’ve seen those new parents be friends for years afterwards!”

The Preparation for Birth and Beyond course is just one example of the partnership working that our 0-19 Service is involved in.

She added: “We work very closely with the local authority in Family Hubs through a range of services; SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities), infant feeding support and community clinics and groups too.”

After moving around a bit while growing up, and spending some time living in London, Jess and her family settled in Sheffield – “It’s a great place, we’ve never looked back!”

Jess has also experienced the other side of life at Sheffield Children’s. In 2014, her son Lewis was diagnosed with Leukaemia and treated here.

Jess said: “We spent years at the hospital and received amazing, compassionate care.

“They saved his life.”

Lewis is currently sitting his GCSEs and wants to go into engineering, something his mum thinks would suit him – “During those years away from school he was always making little gadgets. He’s very creative like that.”

Jess added: “It was a devastating diagnosis to hear and a challenging time watching Lewis receive years of chemotherapy treatment, but the staff were amazing, even when I had desperate days. I was a Health Visitor at Sheffield Children’s at the time and I felt very well cared for as an employee as well as a parent.

Sheffield Children’s is a caring, compassionate place to work. There are so many opportunities to progress. Having both colleagues and senior leaders within my department who could recognise my potential was important in me being able to do that.”

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