Digital care pathway supports the parents of children with behavioural problems

Digital care pathway called Netti-Oppi Parenting Skills Programme has been developed for families in which the parents face challenges with the behavioural problems of their children. The web-based care pathway supports parents in difficult situations and guides them with parenting skills. Netti-Oppi operates on Health Village’s My Path platform.

16 families were selected for the piloting stage of Netti-Oppi digital care pathway. The families progressed through the programme at their own pace for around 10 weeks between October 2021 and January 2022. The programme contains various materials, tasks, exercises, videos and feedback surveys, as well as four remote meetings with a psychologist.

Behavioural problems among children have become more common in recent years. Parents’ resources and ability to listen and understand their child's emotions are important skills in overcoming these situations.

The digital care pathway Netti-Oppi provides an opportunity for the parents to receive low threshold support at an early stage.

Participation clearly helped parents

The families that participated in the pilot gave primarily positive feedback on the digital care pathway. Especially those families that had good resources and capacities for independent reflection felt that they had received help for parenting and handling tricky situations. Many participants told that they have started paying a lot more attention to themselves as parents due to the digital care pathway.

The pilot also highlighted that the cooperation of specialist medical care and primary health care can offer new forms of low threshold support to families with children. Such cooperation seems to work well with mental health services for children. In long term, it is expected that new forms of support can reduce the need for child psychiatric services.

“Digital care pathways are easily accessible, independent of time and location, and the threshold for applying to them may be lower for many parents compared to typical close contact care. Moreover, digital care usually saves employee resources, as the customer absorbs information autonomously”, says psychologist Heidi Backman at Helsinki University Hospital Child Psychiatric Evaluation, Acute and Consultation Unit.

Digital care pathway brings many benefits

The working group that developed Digital care pathway Netti-Oppi thinks that a web-based programme focused on parenting skills would bring following benefits:

  • It becomes easier for parents to get help for their child's behavioural problems, and they receive support at an earlier stage.
  • Parents of children with behavioural problems receive sufficiently targeted assistance at an early stage using methods based on research.
  • The need for family counselling decreases, and the resources can be focused on other customer groups.
  • Referrals to specialist medical care decrease.
  • Cost increases are curbed.

The digital care pathway Netti-Oppi has been developed in cooperation with Helsinki University Hospital Child Psychiatry and City of Espoo Family Counselling Services. It is based on the Parenting Skills Programme Oppi developed by professor Eeva Aronen, which is targeted to parents of children with behavioural problems. It has already been taken into use at Helsinki University Hospital Child Psychiatry.

After the pilot, Netti-Oppi is intended to be taken into use at a larger scale in the Helsinki University Hospital region.

Digital Care Pathway in a Nutshell

A digital care pathway is a digital service developed by the Helsinki University Hospital. It offers patients information about the illnesses and serves as a communication channel with the treatment unit. The digital care pathways contain, for example, patient instructions, images and videos as well as various exercises, queries and a tool for monitoring personal health values. The service supplements traditional care and appointments. The digital care pathway can be duplicated and tailored for various patient groups.