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Parents’ thumbs-up for health app

Ninety per cent of people using an award-winning health app have said it has made them more confident in caring for their children and that they would recommend it to loved ones.

The free CATCH app, which stands for Common Approach to Children’s Health, helps parents and carers keep their 0 to 5 year olds well and to choose the right care at the right time when they fall ill. It also offers advice to expectant mums and dads.

CATCH was developed by Liverpool-based health technology studio Damibu Ltd in collaboration with NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Cheshire East Council.

The app offers:

  • NHS-approved health advice
  • highly localised information about healthcare services and support groups available in Cheshire East
  • timely notifications about key health dates such as childhood immunisations
  • an interactive map of Cheshire East healthcare services such as GP surgeries, dentists and pharmacies

Now, a survey has found that almost 90 per cent of 503 users said the app had helped them feel more confident in caring for their children.

The survey also revealed that, of the 25 per cent of respondents who had considered seeing their GP with their child, 52 per cent said the app had helped them self-care at home instead. Similarly, of the 10 per cent of respondents who had considered taking their child to A&E, 52 per cent said the app had helped them self-care at home.

The survey also asked users which areas of healthcare the app had helped them with most. Of 235 users answering the question, 65 per cent mentioned advice on childhood vaccinations while more than 30 per cent named breastfeeding and exercise and play ideas. Twenty per cent of users said that CATCH had helped them with their mental health.

Finally, 92 per cent of 489 respondents said they would recommend the app to family and friends.

CATCH is highly personalised as parents can input their child’s date of birth and it will only present health information and reminders that are relevant to their child’s age.

The app was developed in 2016 after a study by the council’s public health team found that A&E attendance among 0-4 year olds in Cheshire East was much higher than the national average and that many of the children were being sent home with basic advice and information only. This suggested that self-care may have been a better option for many of the children.

Dr Charlotte Rowland, the CCG’s clinical lead for paediatrics, said: ‘This app is a great resource for parents and parents-to-be, and supports our aim to give children in Cheshire the best start in life. We hope that the age-appropriate information will help parents feel more confident in caring for their child and where and when to seek further advice or medical assessment. By doing so, they are not only helping themselves and their children but are also easing pressure on the NHS.”

Dr Hina Khan, the CCG’s clinical lead for maternity services, said: "As a parent myself, I completely understand how daunting the first few years of your child's life can be. Having a resource that you can look at and turn to anytime of the day is something I personally would have welcomed. With this in mind, I’m encouraging all parents to try the CATCH app to help increase their confidence and give their children the best start to life."

Dr Matt Tyrer, director of public health at Cheshire East Council, said: “Ensuring that children and young people across Cheshire East are physically and emotionally healthy is a key priority for us, and we know that the first few years of life are a critical period for a child’s development.  I applaud the team’s efforts in developing a service which provides vital information for parents on subjects including infant feeding, safety at home and vaccinations.”

CATCH won the Innovation Award for the NHS in the North West in 2017 and was named an NHS Innovation Accelerator by NHS England. It was shortlisted for a Health Service Journal award in the category of "enhancing care by sharing data and information". It was also shortlisted for the Digital Entrepreneur Awards (North) - Digital Innovation in the Public Sector.

The app can be downloaded on Google Play or the App Store. For more information, visit www.catchapp.co.uk.

For more information on CATCH, email: c.malkin@nhs.net