Sharing useful information and parenting tips to support young parents.

The development process was hosted by Bideford Bay Children's Centre, a Sure Start Centre in a part of North Devon where there are higher than average levels of disadvantage.

The initiative was welcomed and valued by the young parents, and by the Sure Start Centre staff who were directly involved.

The parenting tips were put into action

"It's one that I started using and it did increase how well he spoke and his choice making. It's something I'd never thought about. I started doing it with breakfast in the morning I'd get all the boxes of cereal and saying “which one do you want?” and he'd start saying the one he wanted because he had the choice."

"There is an issue with communication skills among children in North Devon" said a senior staff member at the children's centre. The immediate effect of this tip related to language skills was noted, and it was recognised that development of the initiative could be tailored to health priorities in the area.

And the information sharing helped increase attendance and face-to-sessions for young parents and their children

"It's keeping the numbers up. Keeping the children happy and socialised. And the parents as well, socialised. It's a really good idea."

Increased attendance and supporting people to make positive choices are both among the guaranteed results of using Thumbprint.

The NHS in North Devon set up the relationship with the children's centre and the initiative was evaluated by the Young Foundation.

The Young Foundation recommended the service for:

  • "Young families deemed to be 'at risk':
    • requiring support to develop parenting skills
    • financially vulnerable
    • one or both parents unemployed
    • past or current mental and or physical illness
    • children with disabilities
    • single parent families
  • Families who are new to the area and relatively isolated
  • Individuals who are comfortable with mobile phone technology:
    • some people in this group are likely to only have mobile phones
    • messaging is their preferred method of communication as it is quick, efficient and messages can be stored"

The Young Foundation recommended that participants be "engaged in feeding back and shaping future message content."

The experience gained from the initiatives with young parents and community health champions also contributed to the success of the Care for Carers try-out with people caring for people suffering from dementia.