Over the 23rd and 24th of October we brought together International and Local leaders in Child and Family Health for our ‘Trends and Challenges of the 21st Century Child’ Conference. Mark McCrindle set the scene by exploring the demographic landscape of the 21st Century... It has changed way beyond Gen Y and their smashed avocado on toast! Generation Alpha babies are born and raised digital natives and they will grow up to be smarter, richer and healthier, obtaining the highest level of formal education in history.
Here are just 10 of the insights we gained over the second day of the conference from our presenters.
1. The journey of W.H Davies the 'Supertramp' provided us with a case study as Professor Jeremy Holmes explored resilience in an extremely poetic manner. From this tale he derived the sought after outcomes of therapy of self-awareness, context, agency and strong relationships to be defining characteristics of resilience.
2. Drawing on the ARC study Professor Hannah Dahlen shared findings from linked sets of data which found a relationship between perinatal/postnatal trauma with increased outcomes of parental anxiety and depression contributing to increased rates of babies diagnosed with GORD.
3. Nick Hopwood, delivered an inspiring update from research findings on what are the essential ingredients for working with families, taking working in partnership with families to the next level. He spoke about 3 core ingredients:
1. HELP - that is acceptable, affirming subtle and overt when needed.
2. CHALLENGE –that the elephant in the room is dealt with , led by the clinician, work though the tough stuff.
3. POSSIBILITY – being able to entertain new ways of seeing problems, self how we work , family, child and the future.
4. Professor Dorothy Scott spoke about the importance of collaboration and cooperation between health services to support families. Defining three key areas for improvement:
1.Broaden service provider roles so that they can offer “relationship-based�?, culturally sensitive, evidence-informed, comprehensive and family inclusive responses to a wider range of needs.
2. Provide workforce development, secondary consultation and clinical supervision to these service providers, to enhance the capacity and performance of the field.
3. Improve inter-agency collaboration and facilitate effective referrals for families where multiple or specialist services are really required.
5. Professor Valsa Eapen shared the research surrounding environmental conditions and health outcomes for children; ultimately finding that the inverse care law is at play - children from disadvantaged and low socioeconomic status who often have higher developmental risk have lower attendance at surveillance/ preventative programs.
This has significant implications for policy development and service delivery necessitating that services and programs be delivered within a framework of ‘proportionate universalism’—free universal health services for all children and families, with additional support commensurate with additional needs.
6. Kay Souter shared the innovative practice of South West Sydney Health in developing the first Australian local health district pregnancy health mobile app. Driving digital engagement with families with incredible success, we were shown the functionality of the app and spoke about its potential to expand and adapt in the near future.
7. Dr Cheryl McNeil tackled the issue of ‘Time –Out’ being used to promote and support cooperative behaviour in toddlers. Drawing on a plethora of evidence Cheryl took on the myths that had been spruiked by the media about this practice and shared the importance of time out when it is done RIGHT. Concluding that time-out delivered within the right clinical conditions does not traumatize children.
8. Dr Eva Kimonis discussed the research outcomes on the tailored model of PCIT for children with callous and unemotional traits. This model presented greater outcomes for children with these emotional traits when increased focus on parental warmth, child rewards and parental sensitivity was increased in the program.
9. Georgette Fleming shared the innovative strategy of IPCIT, looking to how we can support parents to manage their toddler in our technological era. The use of PCIT via webinar was piloted and showed promising results for parent-child relationship improvements and increased access to this program.
10. Sarah Mares reflected on 30 years of working in infant mental health. Dr Mares covered the achievements, levels of professional competency and great research that is now being represented in the professional field, recognising that infant mental health has ‘come of age’.