8 October 2015

DIY Health: Co-producing solutions for minor ailments in children

The DIY Health model aims to use co-production as the mechanism of action to improve the skills, knowledge and confidence of parents in managing minor ailments in children under the age of 5.

The DIY Health pilot study involved two iterations of 12 weekly 2-hour sessions at two delivery sites. Cohort 1 sessions were conducted September to December 2014 while cohort 2 sessions were conducted January to April 2015.

Sessions were carried out under the supervision of a multidisciplinary team of facilitators including a health visitor, an adult learning specialist and members of the two local Children’s Centres including play and learn workers and family support workers. Each session aimed to pool the skills, knowledge and abilities of participants to create learning opportunities and solve problems about health topics selected based on the needs and interest of the participants.

The core curriculum covered five minor ailments (colds & coughs, diarrhoea & vomiting, fever, ear pain, and skin conditions) in addition to feeding, which were identified as reasons for repeat attendance among under 5 year olds in the literature, in the feasibility study that preceded the pilot, through the co-production process and also via a review of GP attendance data. The DIY Health sessions for this project covered these six minor health concerns and additional topics of interest and relevance to the parents attending.

Summary of results

  • Attending the DIY Health sessions was reported to help parents reduce their visits to the GP, and to feel less reliant on GPs
  • Parents felt more confident and better able to care for their children at home
  • Parents more aware of alternative sources of information, advice and over the counter medicines to manage minor health concerns.
  • Parents reported gaining additional skills and confidence in relation to breastfeeding, healthy diets, weaning, potty training, behavioural concerns and other concerns that were covered during sessions, with reduced anxiety about babies and increased incidence of children feeding themselves as well as improved interactions between parents and their children
  • Key barriers included difficulty attending on a regular basis, language barriers, the need for a convenient delivery location and child friendly space, and, for the delivery team, the extra time required for preparation of the sessions on top of normal job responsibilities
  • Key facilitators included having two facilitators including a health visitor and adult learning specialist and the focus on co-production.

Download the DIY Health toolkit