Giving our high-needs children the best start to life

Maternity Services Coordinator Bijal Soni

Bijal Soni, Best Start to Life Maternity Services Coordinator

Our Best Start to Life programme has helped more than 400 young pregnant Māori and Pacific women to secure health and social services support since its launch 18 months ago.

Total Healthcare funded the programme to address inequities in the care of our high needs population, and it targets registered Māori and Pasifika women under 22 who live in South Auckland.

Support from the get-go 
Our network maternity coordinator, Bijal Soni, works with each young woman from the time they test positive for pregnancy through to the early years of her child’s development. 

“Many of these young women really struggle with this huge change in their life,” says Bijal.

“I am here to provide practical support but, sometimes more importantly, to help them feel safe and comfortable moving within the sometimes complex community support systems and together finding the best solutions for their needs.”

Bijal provides support with everything from booking scans and finding LMCs to engaging with social workers, staying smoke and alcohol-free during pregnancy, and enrolling the babies with a GP and Plunket.

She also liaises with WINZ and Housing NZ and works with agencies providing free services such as Pēpi pods, car seats and health home checks.

Assessing eligibility
To help access the eligibility of young women for the Best Start to Life programme, an online form has been launched that they can complete either from the Local Doctors website or in conjunction with their doctor or clinic nurse. 

Total Healthcare PHO also successfully advocated for collaboration among PHOs to support these young mothers and their babies, so we can literally offer the best start to life for new generations.