Impact of the Healthy Kids Bus Stop at Merriwa & Muswellbrook
The Healthy Kids Bus Stop visited Merriwa and Muswellbrook in May 2018, offering free health and developmental check-ups for children in the region. This award-winning program was delivered through a partnership with the Hunter New England Local Health District and particularly Hunter Valley Community Health, Hunter New England Oral Health, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Royal Far West.
Over the three days, 73 children between the ages of three and five attended the Bus Stop with parents or carers and had checks for general health, hearing, dental, nutrition, speech, and fine and gross motor skill development.
A total of 396 assessments were undertaken by the local Community Health staff, with 70 of the children given referrals in one or more areas. Fifty-seven of the children required referrals for their oral health, 36 for speech pathology, 28 for occupational therapy, 23 for further hearing checks, with a variety of other issues also identified.
A big thank you to Merriwa RSL and Muswellbrook Council (Stan Thiess Centre) for hosting the Bus Stop in their respective venues. Also of great assistance were Upper Hunter Shire Council, Upper Hunter Community Services, preschools, schools and other community organisations – helping with registrations and assisting families to attend to ensure that it was a most successful event.
The Healthy Kids Bus Stop is an integrated ‘whole of child’ health and developmental assessment and pathway to care program which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of children living in rural and remote communities through the early detection of lifestyle risk factors, delayed development and/or illness. Over the four years the Bus Stop has been operating, more than 2,100 children have been screened. This is the fourth consecutive year that Hunter Valley Community Health and Royal Far West have held the Bus Stop, with demand increasing every year.
Royal Far West’s Community Programs Manager John Reid said, “It is a great commitment by the local health staff and a terrific example of integrated care between different stakeholders and organisations. There are many complicated health needs amongst children, and groups working together to find the best find solutions is a very powerful model”.
The assessments are undertaken by a team of nursing and allied staff, provided by Local Community Health, who determine which children need further assessment or intervention, and provide a referral pathway for each child to receive the ongoing support they need through collaborative partnerships with local service providers and Royal Far West.
Hunter Valley Sector’s General Manager Yvonne Patricks said, “A multidisciplinary team of health professionals from Hunter Valley Community Health and other services from Hunter New England Local Health District participated in the Healthy Kids Bus Stop at Merriwa and Muswellbrook. It was a busy but rewarding few days. Everyone was excited by the opportunity to work as part of a broader team to provide health assessments for preschool aged children”.
Charlie Constable proudly showing his bag and stamps
Dominic Quinney at the Healthy Kids Bus Stop
Twins Charlie and John Lonergan at the Bus Stop