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We know that many of you are asking questions about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts your families and the important services that you provide.

The iHV is closely following the advice and reports of the UK Government – and share some of the latest COVID-19 guidance and new iHV professional advice to help you in practice.

This webpage is to support health visitors.

For parents and families – please see our Parenting through Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage –

This page is being regularly reviewed and updated.


General GOV.UK / NHS/ PHE /DfE Guidance

GOV.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

Contains all the latest COVID-19 updates from UK Government.

GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp

The new free to use service aims to provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), and will further reduce the burden on NHS services.This will help combat the spread of coronavirus misinformation in the UK, as well as helping ensure people stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Simply add 07860 064422 in your phone contacts and then message the word ‘hi’ in a WhatsApp message to this number to get started.



PHE Guidance

Winter Planning: Support to Children and Families – 7 October 2020

Public Health England (PHE), NHS England (NHSE)and the Local Government Association (LGA) issued a letter on 7 October 2020 to all directors of nursing confirming details for winter planning in supporting children and families.

In the letter from Professor Viv Bennett, Ruth May and Ian Hudspeth, they advise that professionals supporting children and families, such as health visitors, school nurses, designated safeguarding officers and nurses supporting children with special educational needs should not be redeployed to other services and should be supported to provide services through in pregnancy, early years (0-19) and to the most vulnerable families.


The government has announced the start of a major new national antibody testing programme, with plans to provide antibody tests to NHS and care staff in England from the end of May. This guidance gives information on the programme. An accompanying infographic shows the differences between coronavirus tests.


Social Care Institute for Excellence

Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) quick guide is for practitioners working to safeguard children and families during the COVID-19 outbreak, including social workers and those working in social care settings.

Department for Education

Department for Education (DfE) advice for parents and carers looking after children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) for local authorities and their partners to help support and protect vulnerable children. At this time of national crisis, the government is seeking to ensure the protection of vulnerable children.

Guidance for health visiting practice

Winter Planning: Support to Children and Families - 7 October 2020

Public Health England (PHE), NHS England (NHSE)and the Local Government Association (LGA) issued a letter on 7 October 2020 to all directors of nursing confirming details for winter planning in supporting children and families.

In the letter from Professor Viv Bennett, Ruth May and Ian Hudspeth, they advise that professionals supporting children and families, such as health visitors, school nurses, designated safeguarding officers and nurses supporting children with special educational needs should not be redeployed to other services and should be supported to provide services through in pregnancy, early years (0-19) and to the most vulnerable families.



UNICEF Guidance Sheets

Delivering Baby Friendly services during the current coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak can be very difficult. However, babies, their mothers and families deserve the very best care we can provide. These guidance sheets are intended to support health professionals to provide care remotely. These include:

  • 1. Planning a virtual conversation
  • 2. Antenatal conversations
  • 3. Postnatal conversations
  • 4. Supporting parents with a baby on the neonatal unit

The collection also include a selection of sheets on supporting parents to overcome challenges

  • 5a. Engorgement and mastitis
  • 5b. Sore, cracked and bleeding nipples
  • 5c. Concerns about milk supply
  • 5d. Concerns about weight
  • 5e. Baby sleepy/not interested in feeding
  • 5f. Tongue-tie

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and pregnancy

Guidance for healthcare professionals on Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in pregnancy, published by the RCOG, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Public Health England and Health Protection Scotland.

Provision of postpartum contraception during COVID-19

Joint FSRH, RCOG and RCM recommendations on the provision of contraception by maternity services after childbirth during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Also see PHE section for more Guidance in above “General GOV.UK / NHS/ PHE Guidance”

Sands - Communication while wearing PPE

There are several things that health care professionals can do to  maintain compassionate communication even when wearing PPE.


NHS Learning Hub: Talking to Relatives - Covid-19 Compassionate phone communication

The guide, Talking to relatives – COVID-19 compassionate phone communication is now available on the Learning Hub and provides health and care professionals with a simple framework for communicating concepts including uncertain recovery as well as tips for compassionate conversations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic there has been, and continues to be, a need to support health and care staff with compassionate care and communication with each other, patients and their relatives.  The guide has been developed by Dr Antonia Field-Smith and Dr Louise Robinson from the Palliative Care Team, West Middlesex Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust.  As palliative medicine physicians, Drs Field-Smith and Robinson wanted to share a simple framework for health and care professionals and support those who may have been deployed to a setting this is unfamiliar to them and who may not be so experienced in these conversations.

It only takes a few minutes to contribute a resource to the Learning Hub. You can sign into the Learning Hub either using an e-Learning for Healthcare username and password or NHS OpenAthens user account details or by creating an account on the Learning Hub and using those details. Select “Contribute a new resource” and populate the form with details including the resource title, type, description and author details.

iHV COVID-19 professional advice for health visiting practice

Winter Planning: Support to Children and Families - 7 October 2020

Public Health England (PHE), NHS England (NHSE)and the Local Government Association (LGA) have issued a letter to all directors of nursing confirming details for winter planning in supporting children and families.

In the letter from Professor Viv Bennett, Ruth May and Ian Hudspeth, they advise that professionals supporting children and families, such as health visitors, school nurses, designated safeguarding officers and nurses supporting children with special educational needs should not be redeployed to other services and should be supported to provide services through in pregnancy, early years (0-19) and to the most vulnerable families.

Accelerating the return to near-normal levels of non-Covid health services - 31 July 2020

On 31 July, plans for the next – third – phase of the NHS response to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective from 1 August 2020, were set out in a letter from the Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens & Chief Operating Officer Amanda Pritchard; this includes providers of community services. The Government has agreed that the NHS EPRR incident level will move from Level 4 (national) to Level 3 (regional) with effect from 1 August. This approach matches the differential regional measures the Government is deploying and builds on the guidance set out in the COVID-19 restoration of community health services for children and young people: second phase of NHS response to fully restore [the health visiting] service, with some prioritisation where indicated and as capacity dictates”.

The priorities for this phase are:

  1. Accelerating the return to near-normal levels of non-Covid health services, making full use of the capacity available in the ‘window of opportunity’ between now and winter
  2. Preparation for winter demand pressures, alongside continuing vigilance in the light of further probable Covid spikes locally and possibly nationally.
  3. Doing the above in a way that takes account of lessons learned during the first Covid peak; locks in beneficial changes; and explicitly tackles fundamental challenges including: support for our staff, and action on inequalities and prevention.

Delivering the Health Visitor Healthy Child Programme during the COVID-19 pandemic - updated 19 June 2020

Following the publication of the “COVID-19 restoration of community health services for children and young people: second phase of NHS response” we have updated the COVID-19 professional advice documents that were originally published in March. The documents have been developed in partnership with Public Health England, and have been signed off by them, to support the safe and effective delivery of health visiting practice during the restoration of the health visiting service during COVID-19.


iHV COVID-19 professional advice for health visiting practice - March 2020 versions

**Please note: The first versions of the documents (listed below) were published in March 2020 and were based on the prioritisation guidance for community health services first published on 20 March 2020 which is cited in these documents. This guidance has been superceded with the “Restoration of community health services – guidance CYP version”, published on 4 June 2020 – please see updated versions of these documents above (Version 2).


Good Practice Points


COVID-19 Prioritisation within Community Health Services (March 2020)

This letter and annex set out how providers of community services can release capacity to support the COVID-19 preparedness and response – in March 2020.

Health Visiting and COVID-19 publications

The impacts of COVID-19 on Health Visiting Services in England: FOI Evidence for the First Wave (December 2020)

The universal health visiting service in England is fundamental in delivering the Healthy Child Programme and ensuring that children under five get the best possible start in life; however, it was under severe strain at the beginning of 2020, after years of cuts to funding. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the pressures faced by health visiting services, both in the ensuing redeployment of health
visiting staff to support COVID-19 efforts, and in the increased concerns around children’s and parents’ wellbeing during the lockdown period. However, the exact scale and variation in the redeployment experienced by the health visiting stuff is not precisely known, with existing evidence being based on survey data.

In this brief we present new evidence based on primary data collected through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests from the providers of health visiting services in England on the state of these services before the pandemic and on the redeployment of staff (both health visitors and clinical skill mix staff not defined as health visitors) in health visiting teams between 19 March and 1 September 2020.

Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review (December 2020)

As the UK emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic ‘Build Back Better’ has become the mantra. Important, but we need to Build Back Fairer. The levels of social, environmental and economic inequality in society are damaging health and wellbeing.

It was the principles of fairness and the need to do things differently that animated the concrete recommendations set out in their February 10 Years On Review, just before the pandemic hit with such devastating intensity. Inequalities in mortality from COVID-19 and rising health inequalities as a result of social and economic impacts, have made such action even more important.

Making History: health visiting during COVID-19

Making History: health visiting during COVID-19”, a collection of case studies which presents a window into the working lives of health visitors and families navigating the ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case studies, family stories and creative pieces capture the pace and scale of change as health visiting services adapted to working during “lockdown”.

An extra case study in video format, part of the Making History: Health visiting during COVID-19 – Once upon a time by Barbara Kombe

Babies in Lockdown: listening to parents to build back better (August 2020)

Charity collective, Best Beginnings, Home-Start UK and the Parent-Infant Foundation, publish a new report sharing families’ experiences of lockdown during pregnancy or with a baby.

The report, based on a survey of over 5000 families, highlights the chronic under resourcing of services for families, the inequalities in babies’ early experiences and its worsening forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The report warns that many families with lower incomes, young parents and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, will have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The Babies in Lockdown Report shines a light on UK baby inequalities as charities call on Government to act now to avoid a “Post-COVID19 lottery”.


Best Beginnings: A proposal for a new early years guarantee to give all children in England the best start in life

The Children’s Commissioner for England has published a report looking at the provision of early years services for children across the country, alongside a warning that many nurseries are at risk of closure, hitting the life chances of some of the most vulnerable children and holding back the economic recovery following lockdown.

UCL survey on impacts of COVID-19 on Health Visiting in England (July 2020)

According to a survey from University College London (UCL), health visitors are concerned that the needs of children have been missed due to staff redeployment to support the COVID-19 workforce and increased caseloads.

The UCL survey of 663 health visitors in England, conducted between 19 June and 21 July 2020, found that 41% of respondents in teams that lost staff had between 6 and 50 team members redeployed between 19 March to 3 June 2020.

In approximately 10% of teams, which experienced a loss, this was a redeployment of at least half of their staff. Few teams (9% among those with staff redeployed) gained additional staff to fill the gaps. This meant that 253 respondents (38%) had their caseload increase, some with an increase of 50% or more, and 73% of those that experienced a change reported that their caseload had not returned to its usual size.

Alison Morton presentation to LGA webinar - Supporting the development of babies and young children during the COVID-19 outbreak (July 2020)

JHV article - Who is providing a safety net for babies and young children? (July 2020)

Alison Morton’s paper published in the July issue of Journal of Health Visiting considers the consequences for children and families, as well as the health visitors intended to support them – Who is providing a safety net for babies and young children?

Petitions Committee report: impact of COVID-19 on maternity and parental leave (July 2020)

The Petitions Committee launched its landmark report calling on the Government to extend parental leave and pay for all new parents affected by COVID-19.

More than 226,000 people have signed an e-petition calling for the Government to extend maternity leave by 3 months with pay in light of COVID-19. The committee received over 69,000 responses with people sharing their experiences and views on the Government’s response and on the actions they think need to be taken.

Evidence to Parliamentary Education Committee - The impact of COVID-19 on education and children’s services - June 2020

The Early Years Commission – Call for Evidence - June 2020

iHV writes to the Prime Minister on behalf of children (May 2020)

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE wrote to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, to ask him to start to strengthen the health visiting profession so that it can play its part to help all UK children to be given the opportunity to have the very best start in life.  The Institute is particularly concerned by the growing rates of poverty and widening of health inequalities in the UK, both pre and during the COVID-19 pandemic, and their impact on babies, all children and their parents. This has happened alongside a significant loss of health visitors and development of unwarranted variation in the service across the UK over the past five years.

Voices Blog - Is a secondary pandemic on its way? (April 2020)

A Voices blog by Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director iHV, on the concern of a secondary impact of the pandemic on children and families.

Health Visiting during COVID-19: Unpacking redeployment decisions and support for health visitors’ wellbeing (April 2020)

We asked health visitors across the UK what the big issues were for them under the COVID-19 pandemic.  We used the responses very proactively with government to provide a window into health visiting practice in April 2020 and the support that the profession needs.

Health visiting during COVID-19: An iHV report (April 2020)

On 2 April 2020, the Institute of Health Visiting contacted health visitors through the iHV open Facebook page in an attempt to understand the impact that COVID-19 was having on their practice and the families on their caseloads.

Health visitors were asked to respond to two questions. Responses were received from across the UK and the data from all sources were included in this rapid qualitative analysis and identification of key themes. Based on these key themes, the Institute of Health Visiting made recommendations to support the health visiting workforce maximise their contribution and impact as part of the wider COVID-19 response.

iHV COVID-19 professional advice for health visiting practice


Professional Advice

Parent Tips during COVID-19

Infant feeding

Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative

The Unicef statement includes:

  • Public Health England (PHE) guidance – If you are breastfeeding while infected
  • Accessing infant formula – information from First Steps Nutrition Trust

A Unicef quick reference guide for health professionals on supporting mothers to maximise the amount of breastmilk they are able to give or to re-lactate if they have stopped breastfeeding and wish to re-start.

14 Statements – including no. 14 – Can mothers receive a Covid-19 vaccine while breastfeeding? – published 10 Dec.

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Healthy Start

Practitioner health and wellbeing

As Specialist Community Public Health Nurses, we are all focused on the care, health and wellbeing of the families that we are working with and may forget ourselves. The wellbeing of practitioners is essential to enable provision of safe and effective care. The following links provide useful resources to support you. Look after yourself and follow the Government’s COVID-19 guidance on social distancing and self-isolation as needed and employ strategies which help you manage your own mental health and wellbeing during this time.

Royal College of Psychiatrists

Many people will be experiencing anxiety about their health and safety during this time. This page provides information about COVID-19 and how to manage your mental health during the pandemic.

NHS Our People

This includes:

  • Staff support line
  • Bereavement support line
  • Bereavement and trauma support line for our Filipino colleagues
  • Staff common rooms – The staff common room is an opportunity for NHS people to come together virtually and support each other during this difficult time.
  • Wellbeing support service
  • Wellbeing apps – NHS staff free have access to a number of wellbeing apps from now until the end of December 2020 to support their mental health and wellbeing. Apps include SilverCloud, Sleepio, Daylight, Unmind and Headspace

NHS Horizons

Do you have a role in workforce, occupational health, organisational development, leadership, trade union support or other area that is supporting the wellbeing of our NHS people during and following the COVID-19 response?

You are very welcome to join NHS England and Improvement’s weekly virtual sessions! The sessions will be held every Wednesday between 4pm and 5pm.

If you’re not able to attend the live session, don’t worry: the session will be recorded, and available on the page on the link below after the event (to view recordings and slides from previous sessions, please scroll down the page). You can also follow on Twitter using the hashtag #Caring4NHSPeople.

Mental Health at Work

They offer round-the-clock one-to-one support: TEXT FRONTLINE to 85258 or 0300 131 7000 7am to 11pm to talk by phone.

Website also has other options of support:

Northern Ireland - Supporting the Well-being Needs of our Health and Social Care Staff during COVID-19: A Framework for Leaders and Managers

The Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland has published a framework for leaders and managers to help support the wellbeing of health and social care staff during the coronavirus crisis.

Action for Happiness

Keep Calm! Stay wise! Be kind!

Daily actions to look after ourselves and each other as we face this global crisis together.

Our monthly calendars are packed with actions you can take to help create a happier and kinder world. Click a calendar to download – you can find other language versions there too!

King's Fund

Drawing on research, best practice guidelines and expert clinical opinions, the COVID Trauma Response Working Group has created rapid guidance for planners putting in place psychological support for staff in the early stages of dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak.

They have developed this graphic as a quick reference version of the detailed guidance available on the website.

Coronavirus Support App (UK)

The Coronavirus Support App (UK) is a FREE one-stop guide to help people cope during the coronavirus crisis.

The COVID-19 epidemic has brought many challenges. If you, for example, are in an ‘at-risk’ group because of a long-term health issue, have mental health problems or struggle financially, life during the pandemic can be especially tough.

At times when we’re struggling and need support, finding reliable advice and knowing where to get help can be difficult.

The App is Free to download via Android or Apple and developed by a not for profit social enterprise organisation.

The aim is to support:

  • avoid misinformation – open the app and discover clear health and wellbeing information you trust, all in one place
  • learn to self-care – get answers to common health questions and gain the confidence to tackle everyday challenges
  • know where to get help – easily find useful links to official NHS advice, current government guidance, helplines and charities



A rapid review of the impact of quarantine and restricted environments on children's play and the role of play in children's health

Amidst the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) pandemic, there is uncertainty regarding potential lasting impacts on children’s health and educational outcomes. Play, a fundamental part of childhood, may be integral to children’s health during crises. We undertook a rapid review of the impact of quarantine, isolation and other restrictive environments on play and whether play mitigates adverse effects of such restrictions

Barnardo's - See, Hear, Respond

Barnardo’s is delivering the See, Hear, Respond service in collaboration with other charity sector partners.

It is a service available now through referral, to children, young people and families experiencing issues due to COVID-19 that don’t meet statutory thresholds for support.

The International Marce Society

Evidence-based mental health guidance and resources for clinicians and researchers by category: Academic articles; Resources for clinicians; Resources for your patients.

COVID 19, perinatal mental health and the digital pivot (June 2020)

The implications of perinatal mental health difficulties for mothers, babies and families is outlined succinctly in NICE guidance on the topic and perinatal mental ill-health remains the leading cause of maternal suicide in the first year. Many do not find diagnosis or support when Health Visiting services are struggling owing to public funding cuts. COVID-19 stands to impact perinatal mental health significantly.

NSPCC - Child Mental Health

Mental health is as important to a child’s safety and wellbeing as their physical health. It can impact on all aspects of their life, including their educational attainment, relationships and physical wellbeing. Mental health can also change over time, to varying degrees of seriousness, and for different reasons.

HMRC announcement on Child Benefit

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, it may be more difficult for parents of newborns to register their child’s birth. Because of this, HMRC  has announced that they are no longer requiring parents to register their child’s birth in order to claim Child Benefit at this time.

They are encouraging all eligible parents to make a claim as soon as possible so please share this message with your families.

Doctors of the World

Advice for patients in 23 languages, produced in partnership with the British Red Cross, Migrant Help and Clear Voice. Based on the government’s advice and health information, to help ensure this important guidance reaches migrant and asylum-seeking communities in the UK.

Council for Disabled Children

The Council for Disabled Children has brought together resources and guidance about Coronavirus and children with SEND, to share with parent carers, children & young people, and education, health and social care practitioners.

National Bereavement Care Pathway for pregnancy and baby loss

A pathway to improve the bereavement care parents in England receive after pregnancy or baby loss.

Childhood Bereavement Network

This includes a section on Supporting grieving children and families during the outbreak.

Contacting Relatives by Phone to Communicate Death of a Patient

Sands - Stillbirth & Neonatal Death Charity

Health care professionals can have a positive influence on how parents and families experience their care even if their baby dies. Parents often replay every detail of what happened around their baby’s death and in the following weeks.

To support bereavement care during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sands has added a new resource on sensitive and effective communication to their website. Good communication can’t take away the pain parents and families feel when a baby dies but it can reduce the impact of trauma.