I am Rachel, a parenting coach with a background in specialist family nursing and a mum of 2 boys! I am originally from Zimbabwe and have lived in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland. I have worked professionally in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Nepal, Bangladesh and currently Switzerland.
I started off my career in 2010 as a paediatric nurse in Oxford working on a specialist surgical ward caring for children and their families as they faced major and often life-threatening illness.
I soon realised two things: that children are the future of our communities, and that parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world. So, if we want to raise healthy, whole children to build a better world, parents must be supported. I then undertook specialist training to develop the skills and knowledge needed to work with families in the community and to empower parents to thrive in their roles and to grow healthy, whole children.
I qualified as a specialist family nurse in 2014 and I have since supported hundreds of parents as they transitioned to parenthood, and I then journeyed with them through the joys and challenges associated with family life. I have subsequently completed further training in child brain development and infant mental health and am a certified GroBrain practitioner (accredited by the Association of Infant Mental Health in the UK).
I have two wonderful, challenging, and exhausting boys of 3 years old and 8 months old. One of my greatest ambitions in life is to be the best mum I can be to my boys and yet every day I am reminded of how challenging and tough achieving this can feel. Despite all the theory, all my training and all my experience I still find being a mum hard – I know first-hand that putting the theory into practice can be incredibly challenging.
This means that my approach is not as an all-knowing guru but as a parent who understands that we are all just doing the best we can with what we have got. My hope is that I can support, empower and inspire you on this crazy, beautiful, intense and challenging journey we are on.
So, whether you are looking for someone to help guide and prepare you as you transition to parenthood, just need reassurance and support in your role as a parent or are facing a specific parenting challenge; my qualifications, professional and personal experience mean that I have a wealth of knowledge at my fingertips that I am able to use to equip and empower you, wherever you are on your parenting journey.
My Qualifications and Roles
In 2013 I undertook a PGdip in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing and qualified in 2014 as a specialist family nurse (commonly known as a Health Visitor in the UK). The role of a Health Visitor is to roll out a public health programme called the Healthy Child Programme (HCP). A Health Visitor works with families from late in their pregnancy through to when their children are 5 years old. A Health Visitors role is broad and covers physical health, mental health, social needs and safeguarding and child development. Health Visitors work with a huge network of other professionals who they will refer to, as often they may be the first person who a family raises concerns with, but they may not always be the best person to support with that particular challenge.
In 2015 I completed a MSc in Public Health Nursing with a focus on children and families (Distinction). This expanded my education and knowledge around the challenges that families face and how to support and empower them.
As well as working as a Health Visitor, I worked for a number of years at the University of Oxford in The Oxford Vaccine Group as a paediatic research nurse, senior programme manager and finally programme lead. The projects that I worked on were in the UK, Nepal and Bangladesh with the last project being to lead a large portion of the Astra Zeneca Covid Vaccine Trials.
My time working at the University helped me develop and fine tune my research skills, meaning that I am able to critically evaluate bodies of research and draw out and utilise the evidence base effectively. This is an essential skill I utilise daily as I approach the huge amount of information there is about parenting and distil it down for my families into understandable, evidence-based, and reliable parenting advice. Working with families in Nepal and Bangladesh also gave me a deeper understanding of the diversity of child raising practices and how to embrace this when we think about parenting. I continue to do part-time research work at the University as well as run Our Parenting Journeys.
I have recently completed further training with GroBrain in order to expand my knowledge on brain development and how this can inform our parenting.
On a day-to-day basis a Health Visitor will:
Visit families in their homes to provide support with parental mental health, parenting challenges, breastfeeding, health concerns, nutrition and eating questions and much more.
See children in local clinics where they give general advice and guidance on parenting, health, social and emotional challenges.
Offer telephone support on any concerns parents might have
Complete assessments on children to assess their development and support parents to understand how to promote this.
Deliver educational classes to parents on common parenting topics.
Liaise and communicate with other professionals working with families to ensure a joined up and supportive network surrounds families