The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) works with parents aged 24 and under, partnering them with a specially trained family nurse who visits them regularly, from early pregnancy until their child is two. By focusing on their strengths, FNP enables young parents to:
- Develop good relationships with and understand the needs of their child
- Make choices that will give their child the best possible start in life
- Believe in themselves and their ability to succeed
- Mirror the positive relationship they have with their family nurse with others.
FNP is highly structured - in that the tools it uses and the nature and number of visits is prescribed, based on years of research, evidence, successful implementation and constant evaluation - but it is also flexible. Within this structure, nurses deliver a highly personalised intervention based around the specific strengths and needs of each client. We call this agenda matching, and it is sophisticated process demanding a high level of skill from our nurses.
FNP is underpinned by three theories:
- Human ecology theory – emphasising the impact of social context and environment on human development
- Attachment theory – emphasising the importance of the security and safety that comes from a relationship with a primary caregiver to a child’s healthy emotional development
- Self-efficacy theory - nurses use this concept to guide their efforts in supporting positive change, enabling clients to understand why particular actions are important and to develop the confidence necessary to achieve these.
Family nurses also use specific approaches derived from the world of motivational interviewing, focusing on enhancing a young parent’s motivation to change. Family nurses listen, guide and advise using these skills, and by staying aware of their style of communication.
FNP is a licensed programme
One way of looking at this is to think about the comparison with prescription drugs - these are licensed to be used to treat specific medical conditions, to be given to a particular group of patients at a prescribed dose. In FNP, families benefit most when the programme starts early in pregnancy, where the number of visits and content delivered is as set out in programme model and where the clinical methods and approaches of FNP are used well.
A complex community-based intervention such as the FNP programme has far more licensing requirements than just the eligible population and ‘dose’, but the principle is the same. If the programme is not delivered in the way that is set out in the license agreement, then it is also less likely to realise its intended benefit. Licensing requirements may also be updated to reflect new learning and the delivery context.