NEW Certified HUG Teacher Discovers "Starting Here, not There" Makes ALL the Difference

(Picture: First-time Mom with her 10-month-old)

Michelle Delp, RN, ICCE, is a Nurse Home Visitor with the Nurse-Family Partnership of Wyoming/Bradford/Sullivan counties in Pennsylvania. She has had the opportunity to work in this remarkbale program that enables nurses to make home visits for several years to offer both support and education to young familes in need. Though her training has been exceptional and evidenced-based, Michelle discovers that The HUG Strategies enhance this training and the care she provides. What a story Michelle has to tell!!

The best thing I've learned from Hug Your Baby is how to make better connections with moms during a home visit. As a Nurse Home Visitor, I see a mother from early in her pregnancy until her child turns two years old, so there is a unique relationship that forms between that mother and her nurse. In preparing for a visit, I have a certain amount of curriculum I am hoping to cover when I arrive, as well as completing any assessments or paperwork that correspond with that visit. So, many times in the past, I have been easily derailed when I walk in the door and find Mom in the midst of a crisis, or sleep-deprived and grumpy, or just plain distracted. This has changed since I've learned to use the "Start Here, Not There" and "See Then Share" strategies.

On my last visit to the home of a 26-year-old, first-time mom and her ten-month-old baby, I went in prepared to do a developmental assessment on the child, and to offer a lesson on safety in the home to Mom. On arrival, I was greeted by a manic dog who wouldn't get out from under my feet, the baby strapped into a high chair and placed in front of the TV, and Mom in a high state of agitation over custody issues. My first inclination was to say, "Wow, this looks like a bad time for me to be here. Maybe I should come back another time."

Instead, I grabbed hold of "Start Here, Not There," put down my baby scale and bag of paperwork, and encouraged Mom to express some of her feelings about the day's events. In the process, she removed the baby from in front of the TV and put him in her lap where he did a lovely job of grinning and showing me how he could "Pat-a-Cake."

Encouraged by this initial success I tried some "See Then Share": "Wow, you've been playing with and talking to your son this week, haven't you? Look how well he's learned to imitate you." This brought a big smile from Mom, and some encouragement from her to do it again, ultimately helping her to relax. It also led into that developmental assessment I needed to accomplish. "Hey, he's doing one of the things I'm looking for on that assessment we talked about. Let's see what other wonderful things he's learned over the last couple of weeks."

I've used these two strategies many times since. On occasion, I will move into "Gaze Then Engage," but a lot of the time I end up making a referral to mental health counseling to deal with some of the big issues that these moms face.

Many thanks, Hug Your Baby, for a great way to connect with my clients.

Michelle Delp, RN, ICCE