It’s a day late, but my happy birthday to Plunket which was founded on May 14th 1907, is no less sincere for that.
I was invited to my first Plunket sub-branch meeting when I was only just in maternity clothes. Like most other women in the district I became a member, served on the committee and then stayed on long after my children were no longer eligible for Plunket services.
The sub-branch raised funds to support the work of Plunket nurses, it was a social outlet and also provided support for members.
When our first baby was born the Plunket nurse was a neighbour, living only a little over a kilometre away and while I never needed to call her in an emergency, it was reassuring with a first baby, and one born six weeks early, to know there was a professional so close.
She moved when the baby was just over a year old and another nurse looked after our second and third babies who had brain disorders.
I can’t overstate how supportive she was. She continued making what she called love visits to the third baby long after the official quota of home calls was used up. Only in hindsight do I understand she wasn’t just keeping an eye on him, she was also looking out for his older sister and making sure I was coping.
You don’t have to have babies with problems to appreciate Plunket services. I don’t know any parent who didn’t value the help and advice they got and the home visits are an important part of that.
Every now and then someone wanting to save money suggests changes to the universal home visits, but the universal visits are an integral part of Plunket’s strength.
Going into homes allows nurses to see where the baby lives and notice things that wouldn’t be obvious in a clinic visit.
Equally important, going in to every home means there is no stigma about the visits and because of that the Plunket car outside a house is welcomed where a Public Health nurse’s car might not be.
Plunket has performed an invaluable service for babies and their parents for 102 years and it is needed just as much now as when it was founded.
Roger Hall was commissioned to write a play for Plunket’s 100th birthday. I recommend Who Needs Sleep Anyway to anyone who’s had a baby or even been a baby.