New texting service in Devon helps parents and young people access help

Virgin Care is delivering improvements for hundreds of parents, children and young people across Devon with two separate text-based services so they can access help easily and efficiently.

The different text lines give access to advice, support and signposting to appropriate services for people not requiring a face to face contact. Parents can seek extra help from a health visitor, and teenagers from a school nurse.

All 13 to 19-year-olds can text a concern or question on anything from bullying and sexual health to problems with alcohol and drugs; while parents can seek assistance on anything from their child’s health, development and behaviour and adjusting to parenthood.

This improvement to Devon Integrated Children’s Services supports families and young people to access help, as early as possible, in a way that works for them and offers an alternative to a face to face appointment. The service can be totally anonymous, unless it is thought that the person is at risk.

Texts can be made throughout the week from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday and during out of hours the service will automatically respond with helpful advice when a health visitor or school nurse is not available.

Parents wanting to access health visitors can text 07520 631 721, while teenagers should contact school nurses on 07520 631 722.

Kathryn Stephens, Head of Public Health Nursing for Devon Integrated Children’s Services, said: “We spend more time using mobile devices to look after our daily lives than ever before, so we wanted to find a way to offer parents and teenagers who access our services something, which they told us they’d wanted, to communicate and access services with ease.

“The text-based service is part of Virgin Care’s plans to improve children and young people’s services in Devon. By increasing choice in accessing the services without the need for an appointment it increases people’s confidence to get in touch with and seek the help they need.”

The Health Visiting and School Nursing Service is a part of Devon’s Integrated Children’s Services and Virgin Care has run the services, which are part of the NHS and free at the point of use, since April 2013 introducing new technology and ensuring a consistent service across the county.

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