Plunket is New Zealand’s leading provider of well child and family health services, and they provide a unique mix of professionals and volunteers working side by side.
The Plunket programmes have been designed to support families with young children by offering a range of activities including clinical health services, support groups and initiatives, educational courses, and health promotion. Every programme is there to provide practical help, information and support, and where necessary links families to more specialised help within the community.
Plunket is New Zealand’s only national organisation solely dedicated to well child health. Working with New Zealand families since 1907 as a not-for-profit organisation, Plunket has a tradition of caring, a history of service and a record of helping to make our communities friendlier places in which to raise healthy children. These are values to which most New Zealanders subscribe.
Plunket is in touch with local needs: the needs of Maori and Pacific people, the needs of those in isolated communities from Bluff to the far north and the needs of those who most need its care and support. Its policies and services are based on the real knowledge of local need that staff and volunteers develop in the communities in which they operate.
All families with children under age five are welcome to use Plunket services and more than ninety percent of New Zealand families choose to use Plunket to help them care for their young children.
What does it do?
When most kiwi parents hear the word Plunket, they immediately think of Plunket nurses, Plunket books, and weighing babies. While these services make up a portion of what Plunket does, it is by no means all they do.
Plunket’s core services support key health goals which aim to reduce infant death rates and preventable health problems, while increasing the occurrence of positive health trends and positive parenting. While most of Plunket’s services are offered right across New Zealand, there are some programmes or initiatives which are unique to specific areas. To find out what programmes are offered in your region, contact your local Plunket branch. Their number can be found in the White Pages of your phone book or see their website below.
Plunket services include:
All families who choose to use Plunket services are offered a number of home visits after the baby’s birth. These visits provide support, health and wellbeing assessments, and information to enable parents to make positive choices. The visits are also a way to check on the health and wellbeing of the family unit.
Clinic / Marae Visits
Free clinic visits are offered at key stages of the child’s development, and nurses are able to provide both developmental assessments and practical support for the parents. Clinic visits help to identify potential problems early on, and families can be referred to appropriate agencies as needed. In the babies first year Plunket visits will be fairly regular, but as your child gets older you may only need to visit the clinic once or twice a year.
Clinic services include:
• Hearing and vision assessments
• Promotion of dental health and pre-school dental enrolment
• Education about the needs of young children
• Developmental Assessment
• Information and support about parenting and family issues
• Child Safety Information
• Child Management
• Information about breastfeeding and children’s food needs
In some cities, additional support and practical assistance can be provided in community facilities with a home-like environment. The support comes in various forms, but can include things such as helping to develop a daytime sleep routine, or simply minding baby while Mum gets an overdue rest.
Parenting Education and Support
Plunket offers a wide range of parenting courses and support groups, many of which are managed and co-ordinated by volunteers. Almost all Plunket branches offer coffee mornings and play groups for new Mum’s, but some have a whole list of other groups and courses you can be involved in.
The amount of courses and support groups available is largely dependent on how many volunteers support your branch. Becoming a Plunket volunteer is a great way to make new friends, gain confidence, and learn new skills, plus your child benefits from the interaction with other Plunket families.
Plunket Line is a national telephone support service which provides help and support when parents have concerns about their child’s health or wellbeing. The telephone service is staffed by trained Plunket nurses, and operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. You can call Plunket Line on 0800 933 922 with any questions or concerns you have, regardless of how silly they seem to you.
Child Safety and Car Seat Rental Schemes
Plunket actively promotes the prevention of unintentional injury to children through the use of safety devices, materials and resources. Most Plunket branches operate a Car Seat Rental scheme where you can hire appropriate car seats for your children at a reasonable rate. To find about the availability and prices of car seats in your area, contact your local Plunket branch.
Health Promotion and Information
While there’s no such thing as a parenting manual, Plunket has come up with the next best thing. ‘Thriving Under 5’ is a book which is given to every Plunket client after the birth of a new baby. The book provides a whole range of information to help you care for your baby and yourself, and includes information about topics such as breastfeeding, coping with a crying baby, sleep patterns, common health complaints, and positive parenting tips. You can download a copy of ‘Thriving Under 5’ by visiting www.plunket.org.nz
Plunket also produces a range of pamphlets on specific topics, and you can access these free through your Plunket nurse.
Parents as First Teachers
Plunket is one of the leading providers of Parents as First Teachers, a holistic programme which recognises that parents are their child’s first and most important teacher. The programme is designed to support and encourage parents through their child’s early years, and is delivered through individual home visits and group activities. For more information about Parents as First Teachers, click here.
Ante Natal Classes
In some centres Plunket offers ante-natal classes to help prepare you and your partner for the birth of your child. The classes are in a group setting and take place either over a weekend, or several evenings. Ante-natal classes give you the opportunity to learn about different stages of pregnancy, childbirth, and just what to expect when you actually become a parent!
Mobile Clinics are buses which take Plunket services to families who would not otherwise access the health care on offer. Sometimes this is due to geographical reasons, but often these families have other barriers including financial, social and cultural. The focus of mobile clinics is to deliver well child health checks, immunisations and checks for glue. They also identify health and social issues and refer families to other agencies as necessary.
How is it funded?
While Plunket receives some government funding to deliver specific services, most of what Plunket does it funded by sponsorship and fundraising. Plunket receives sponsorship from several New Zealand companies including major corporate sponsors Huggies, ANZ, Watties, Meridian Energy, Quantum Pacific and the Progressive Group.
The largest fundraising activity for Plunket is their annual appeal, where volunteers go door-to-door collecting funds for their area. Approximately $900,000 is raised in the annual appeal, and this money goes to support a range of Plunket services in the communities it was collected from.
Volunteers also organise fundraising activities at a branch or sub-branch level. These can range from good old kiwi sausage sizzles, through to concerts, car boot sales, merchandise sales, and so much more. Volunteers raise approximately $8,000,000 nationally every year.
How can I get their help?
If you are pregnant, your mid-wife or lead caregiver will talk to you about Plunket and how you can access their services. If your baby is already born and you have not had any contact from Plunket, contact your Plunket branch by calling the number in the White Pages of your phone book.
How much does it cost?
Most Plunket services are completely free; however there may be a small charge for playgroups and parenting courses to help cover basic costs. If you can’t afford the gold coin donation, don’t let it stop you from attending. Talk to your Plunket nurse and she’ll help you sort it out.
Link to Plunket’s website
The Plunket website is enormous, but easy to navigate and provides really useful information about the services they provide throughout the country. It also details upcoming national events, and provides media releases and news items which have involved Plunket in the community. The website gives you a good sense of who they are and what they do, and provides all local contact details.