Nurses who care for first-time mothers in poverty have helped create an app to help client moms stay informed and in touch.
The Nurse-Family Partnership launched its Goal Mama app earlier this year. Now nurses nationwide who are part of the Nurse-Family Partnership are encouraging young new moms to use the app between at-home, one-on-one visits with the partnership’s 2,000-plus nurses.
The Nurse-Family Partnership cares for more than 38,000 moms in in the U.S. and is charged with improving maternal health and birth outcomes, preventing child abuse, reducing childhood injuries, increasing children’s school readiness and reducing juvenile crime, according to its website.
Kathy Pounds, BSN, RN, a nurse at Nurse-Family Partnership’s Gift of Life location in Montgomery, Ala., sat on the committee along with other nurse colleagues and end users who helped create Goal Mama.
The committee determined the app’s aim would be to support relationships between nurses and clients and help new moms engage more and focus on goal setting.
“We enroll low-income, first-time moms [usually] prior to 28 weeks, and we stay with our moms until their babies are 2 years old,” Pounds said. “One of the things that’s very attractive about the Nurse-Family Partnership model to me is how it is so focused on the relationship with the client. I also do part-time supervision and tell the nurses on the team that if we get the relationship right, everything else will fall into place.”
With time, nurses can gain new moms’ trust and support them in their journey from pregnancy to childbirth and beyond.
How does the app help?
The Goal Mama app helps clients set and pursue goals.
“The client has the app, and the nurse has an accompanying dashboard on a phone, iPad or computer,” Pounds said.
“Part of what we do when I’m meeting with new moms is talk about where they are in their lives now and where they would like to be,” she said. “We talk about how to create a goal and achieve that goal. The app does a great job at supporting that.”
Goal Mama teaches new moms about how to set smart goals. It helps them create the steps for meeting goals and allows them to track their progress.
“Within the app, if she doesn’t have any idea where she wants to start, there are self-discovery quizzes,” Pounds said. “She can look back and reflect on herself. What are her values and what are her strengths?”
Even setting small goals can help new moms become more confident, set larger goals and move toward self-efficacy, according to Pounds.
The app offers information on topics, such as a baby’s growth and development, and it includes a mom to-do list and access to a Nurse-Family Partnership mom community. Client moms can communicate through the app with their nurses, notifying them about changes, obstacles, wins and more. And nurses can respond between visits, which are about every two weeks.
“Another part about the app that I really enjoy is building on my clients’ strengths,” Pounds said. “A lot of times I might not have my charts with me (some of us are still paper). The app allows us to see those goals and then to send out a quick shout out to our clients. So I can give her a quick high-five and say, ‘Hey, I see you’re working on your goals. That’s great.’ Or I can customize it to something more specific, to support her in reaching a goal.”
Pounds also uses the app to plan visits with her new moms, based on what moms need at the time.
Best practices for app development
While the Goal Mama app is specifically for the Nurse-Family Partnership, other organizations considering similar projects should consider a few important tips.
Pounds said getting input from nurses and end users was key. The project took nearly three years of planning, brainstorming and testing.
It’s important to make the technology fit in users’ lives, according to Fran Benton, MPH, public relations director for the Nurse-Family Partnership.
Partnership clients tend to be in their late teens or early 20s, according to Benton.
“What’s really important at Nurse-Family Partnership is that we meet the moms where they are, and they are on smartphones,” Benton said.
It’s also important to stay focused on what the app does and doesn’t do. The app augments the one-on-one personal relationships nurses develop with client moms. It doesn’t replace in-person time.
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