Children’s healthcare services in Lambeth and Southwark are being reimagined in the first UK study connecting the social determinants of health with day-to-day clinical practice.
It is well evidenced that issues such as hunger, housing and security significantly impact health. Studies have shown that going hungry just a handful of times is associated with poorer physical and mental health, with children also less likely to finish school.
The Children & Young People’s Health Partnership (CYPHP) is changing how the NHS responds to healthcare needs by taking a holistic approach and assessing children’s physical, mental and emotional health alongside social, school and family circumstances.
‘We’ve identified a large degree of undiscovered need that hospital doctors and nurses are not usually trained or accustomed to picking up because it stems from each child’s social and family context,’ said Dr Ingrid Wolfe, Principal Investigator for CYPHP and Clinical Senior Lecturer in Child Health at King’s.
CYPHP brings together King’s researchers with health and education professionals across Lambeth and Southwark. More than 4,000 children with ‘tracer’ conditions such as asthma, constipation and eczema have been part of the CYPHP approach to care so far. Up to 20 per cent of their families face challenges that make day-to-day life extra difficult. This includes food and housing insecurity, unstable employment, difficulty paying bills and parental mental health problems.
The CYPHP team aims to deliver improved care for local children by responding to their healthcare needs alongside the broader challenges facing their families. Working in partnership with support services and other agencies allows them to tackle the root causes, rather than waiting for when the child needs medical treatment and the compounding issues are far harder to address.