The Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso Foundation was established in 1951 by Mr Manuel and Mrs Maud Queiroz Pereira ‘…to be an institution of preventive and educational assistance dedicated to future mothers and their children…’. The foundation addresses the health, environment, economic, and social situation of the families of their local community.
By Maria do Carmo Ferin Cunha and Mafalda Lourenco
Since then, the Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso Foundation has not refused participation to any family, with the cost of the services being adjusted according to each family’s ability to pay, helping to ensure equity in access to healthcare.
The core of the Foundation’s activities has been, since the beginning, prevention and health promotion. The health monitoring model has been developed throughout the years based on the healthcare needs of the population served.
The health monitoring integrated model
The main core of Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso Foundation’s activity is health promotion. This includes primary prevention, through health education activities; secondary prevention, through a health monitoring model based on periodic health appointments and screenings; and tertiary prevention, through timely treatment of abnormalities or diseases detected on secondary prevention services.
The child health programme is the core for all other healthcare services. It focusses on health promotion and preventative care, and is rolled out through health screenings at key ages. These screenings allow for early detection, monitoring, and management of situations that may interfere with the children’s development. They cover oral health, eye sight health, hearing health and cardiology. Each screening has well-defined objectives, is appropriate for each phase of child development, and is based on scientific evidence.
Additional paediatric and nursing consultations are planned according to the age of the child and to their degree of risk, based on a list of risk factors cited by the World Health Organization regarding maternal and infant health.
Children may have also nutrition, allergology, and neurodevelopment paediatric consultations, if suspected of presenting problems in these areas. They can be vaccinated at services, according to the national vaccination programme.
The mental health and well-being programme operates hand-in-hand with other health programmes and aims to promote, through health education of caregivers, the creation of an environment setup favorable to the child’s psychological development. The institution meets with nurses, for training purposes, and with parents/caregivers directly, to discuss mental health concepts using case studies.
Although mainly dedicated to child health, Foundation’s healthcare services also include sexual and reproductive health and family health.
Sexual and reproductive health services includes family planning consultations, where along with the sexual and reproductive issues there are health education activities concerned with nutrition, physical activity, etc., to help people choose healthier behaviours and lifestyles. It also includes obstetric consultations for pregnancy monitoring, including ultrasound scans. Group pre- and post-natal sessions and workshops for promotion of a positive parenthood are also available.
In order to answer to the current serious problem of public health in an ageing population where the burden of chronic diseases continues to grow, family health services also include general practice/family medicine, nutrition and allergology appointments for prevention or management of chronic diseases.
Data from all the consultations are logged digitally, according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), which allows us to compare morbidity prevalence and incidence not only amongst participants, but against the general population of Portugal and European Union.
The main role of the family nurse
The family nurse has an essential role in the Foundation’s success. The family nurse is the gatekeeper of all information about a family enrolled in the children’s health programme. Holistic and empathetic approaches by the family nurses allow the development of a strong and trusted relationship with each family. This helps the caregivers ensure that any health and welfare messages are more easily understood and accepted.
It is the family nurse and caregivers together who help develop a suitable monitoring strategy for each family, based on the health risk factors presented. This is adapted following the results of the various appointments and programmes that the family takes part in.
The Foundation has made its integrated services available to thousands of caregivers, with the purpose of prolonging the number of years of healthy life. The model educates, supports and empowers parents and other caregivers, to enable them to adopt healthy lifestyles. This creates a strong foundation for the children involved for the rest of their lives, within their families, communities and cultures.