Authored By: Every Child Succeeds on August 6, 2020
CINCINNATI -- Tricia Shaffer is one of our many dedicated home visitors who has been providing virtual visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked her what the experience has been like, and what she misses most. How are you and your team still serving ECS families? We are doing visits by phone and online videoconferencing, as well as communicating by text and making drop-offs. During drop-off visits, I leave essential items for families like diapers, wipes, phone assistance cards, books, pantry items and handouts. We wear masks and are very careful to maintain social distancing during these drop offs.
During video calls, we can see mom and baby interacting which is important to our role as home visitors. It is not the same but it is the best safest option. During phone calls, this interaction is much harder to assess. I have been using a new Healthy Families America resource to guide my questions during phone visits to gauge how mom and baby/toddlers are really doing with the stress of living during a pandemic. Before I was given this guide I was really struggling with the phone visits.
What do you miss most?
I deeply miss seeing my ECS families. I miss interacting with babies and toddlers. I miss their laughs and smiles. One of the hardest things is that I have had two young women deliver their babies since March and it doesn't feel right that I haven't held their babies, or have seen them in person with their babies. It saddens me to not know when I will see them.
Do you feel like you are making a difference?
After the initial adjustment to virtual visits, I started to wonder if I could really make a difference when I was not seeing families in their homes. I was missing that job satisfaction that comes when you help people. But one day, a new mom called me because she was having difficulty breastfeeding. Together we worked through the issues of latching, soreness, and supply and demand. My phone support helped her to get back on track and she successfully breastfed for weeks after. That was sort of a turning point for me. I felt I could be helpful and positively support my families to reach their goals.
What have you learned through this experience so far?
The transition was very difficult for me and my families, but we have adapted. This ability to adjust to these changes is a positive. If we are adapting and still accomplishing our goals during a pandemic, then we can use that to make it through future tough times.
Every Child Succeeds is a nationally-recognized, evidence-based home visiting program that helps new parents create nurturing, healthy home environments throughout Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky. We seek to ensure children reach their full potential by partnering with parents to optimize their development prenatally and throughout the important first 1,000 days of life. Read more about Every Child Succeeds by clicking here. This article was originally published in Every Child Succeeds' August 6, 2020 newsletter.