Health Visiting is…
Health visitors are registered nurses/midwives who have additional training in community public health nursing. They provide a professional public health service based on best evidence of what works for individuals, families, groups and communities; enhancing health and reducing health inequalities through a proactive, universal service for all children 0-5 years and for vulnerable populations targeted according to need. Health visiting is a proactive, universal service that provides a platform from which to reach out to individuals and vulnerable groups, taking into account their different dynamics and needs, and reducing inequalities in health. Pre-school children and their families are a key focus.
How does it work?
Health visitors work with parents who have new babies, offering support and informed advice from the ante-natal period until the child starts school at 5 years. They may work in teams or have sole responsibility for a caseload derived from the local area or a general practice list; they are usually based in children’s centres, surgeries, community or health centres. Health visitors visit parents through a minimum of 5 universal home visits from late pregnancy through to a developmental assessment at 2 years. These visits are usually in the home, but the health visitor may invite you to join groups, clinics and networks run by the health visiting team or colleagues who work with them such as: nursery nurses, children centre staff, voluntary organisations or community mothers.
Families from all walks of life may need support for specific issues that affect their children’s health and development, so the actual service provided to each particular family will vary according to a personalised assessment of their own needs and evidence of what will work for them.
Watch our short film – Health Visitors: for every family
The Institute of Health Visiting (iHV), working together with parents and Solent NHS Trust, is delighted to share a short film to highlight the value and breadth of the role of the health visitor in relation to family mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
It showcases the unique opportunity and skills that health visitors have to build relationships and the support that health visitors can offer where additional concerns about parental mental health or the parent-infant relationship are identified.
One of the biggest challenges facing the health visiting profession is that many people do not know who health visitors are, or what their role entails. How can we expect the Government to invest in health visiting if this is not clear?
Across the four nations of the UK, there are also significant differences between the health visiting services offered in each nation – this is driven by different levels of prioritisation and investment by their respective governments. To support investment in health visiting in all nations, it is therefore imperative that the work of health visitors is made visible, and the benefits of an effective health visiting service are promoted. As a result, this infrastructure of support that health visitors provide is vulnerable to service cuts.
In our aim to make the work of the health visitor more visible, we launched two new infographics setting out “Who are health visitors and what do they do?” and “It’s time to invest in health visiting because…”.