Nicky Skerman grew up in Palmerston North and worked as a Plunket nurse until she had her four children. After years of being a full-time-mother, she decided to upskill. Nicky completed two post graduate papers in the School of Nursing at EIT, then progressed to gain a Master’s degree.

Nicky Skerman

For her Master’s thesis Nicky interviewed 21 teenage mothers asking them what they wanted from the Well Child/Tamariki Ora (WC/TO) service. She surveyed what these mothers liked and didn’t like about services which they had experienced after their midwifery care had finished.

Nicky found that they were not well engaged with the Well Child services. They said that their parenting needs weren’t met. They wanted someone who cared and whom they could trust and have a relationship with for potentially the first five years of their children’s lives.

Realising how significant her findings were, Nicky alongside Plunket, applied for a Vodafone Foundation World of Difference scholarship. She was granted $80,000 to start a pilot programme for teen mothers based on her thesis recommendations.

“What we did was very simple but it made a huge difference to young mothers,” Nicky explains. In addition to the midwife visits the women were seen three times by one consistent Plunket nurse, twice in the late antenatal period and then again before their babies were two weeks old.

The relationship the nurse developed with the mother through these extra visits meant that trust was gained early. In many cases, the nurse could connect the mothers with other health and social services as needed.

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