The Family Zone was established in 2005 and is run by Yvonne Heavyside, a British trained Health Visitor, lactation consultant and community nurse who has more than 35 years working experience in obstetrics, health visiting, lactation advice, family planning and maternal and child health nursing.
Yvonne came to Hong Kong from the UK in 1995 with her family. In 1997 she started working at The Matilda International Hospital running their Baby Clinic and the Mum and Baby Group. She also later established the Mum and Toddler Group. Yvonne then also taught The Matilda’s Antenatal Classes and The National Safety Council First Aid and CPR Courses. For The Matilda, she also set up a Baby Basics Course which was especially popular with parents who have had no experience with babies and with prospective adopters. In addition, Yvonne ran The Matilda’s Domestic Helper Child Care course until September 2005. She continues to teach antenatal classes at The Matilda and maintains a close relationship with the hospital and many other Hong Kong obstetricians, paediatricians and GP’s.
Yvonne has also worked as a health journalist and has had many articles published in a variety of media. She has contributed extensively to both editions of The Matilda Baby Book and has featured regularly on RTHK on family issues.
How The Family Zone was established
In the UK, health visitors visit all mums and babies at home once the mum leaves hospital. The health visitor is there to offer support and advice on breast feeding, care of the postnatal mother and of the newborn and to help deal with any family issues. The health visitor monitors the physical and mental development of the baby until the baby is 5 years old.
Postnatal Home Visits were established because of demand from clients Yvonne was already working with at The Matilda. Many of these mothers were familiar with the British health visiting service and sought a similar service in Hong Kong. This service became particularly popular during SARS and the news of it spread from this context to become popular with many other nationalities. In 2006, to enhance this service, Yvonne qualified with the International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants (www.iblce.org). We have developed a package arrangement of 5 or 10 visits since we found that more and more clients were asking us to consult over longer periods to provide continuity of care. Many of the clients did not have specific problems but wanted the reassurance of regular visits, baby developmental checks and 24 hour telephone support.
As our client list grew we then began to teach private antenatal classes in the evenings and on Saturdays since we found that many clients were unable to attend classes regularly because they had to travel or could not commit to a typical course of 6 x 2 hour sessions. Shortly after this we established our Fast Track Antenatal Classes for Busy People for those who wanted to attend a more compact course covering the same topics.
One thing we noticed whilst visiting new mothers was that they were confused about what they wanted from their helpers in relation to care of their baby. Apart from breast feeding problems we found that there was no other topic which upset mothers more. So we established our Child Care, First Aid & CPR Course for Domestic Helpers which has proven very popular with our clients and others with no prior connection with us.
Parents who sent their helpers on this course then began asking for a similar course, dealing only with First Aid and CPR, which they themselves could attend. In response we started running our Paediatric First Aid & CPR Course which continues to prove popular including with parents with whom we have had no prior dealings.
Around the time Yvonne qualified as a Lactation Consultant she persuaded her husband, Peter, to help out with establishment of this website and with handling course bookings; he had already been administering Yvonne’s financial accounts. Peter agreed but still eagerly awaits his first salary payment. Since then The Family Zone has been honoured to enjoy the contribution of a number of other professionals whose profiles you can see on the People page.
None of this would have been possible without the support and trust of our clients and so we conclude with a big thank you to all of you.
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