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Becoming a Fellow of the iHV

7th July 2014

To be recognised as one of the first Fellows of the Institute of Health Visiting came as a surprise and an honour that means a lot to me. I have always been passionate about health visiting and have seen the difference that it can make to the lives of children and parents.

My decision to train as a health visitor nearly 24 years ago is one that I have never regretted. I have always considered it a privilege to work with the wide variety of people that I meet every day, each unique in their own way.

Health visiting is undergoing a process of radical change and modernisation that is unprecedented in recent times. However there are still large numbers of expectant parents who don’t know what a health visitor is, or have heard negative stories about what we do. I was very interested in the work of the iHV which is seeking to raise the profile and quality of health visiting nationally and to improve public awareness of our role.  Despite personal reservations about my suitability as a Fellow, I was encouraged to apply by my senior manager in Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust.  The application process was rigorous and involved the nomination and testimonial of a service user, a peer and a senior manager, as well as a personal testimony and CV. Applicants were also asked to describe their proudest moment and how they would use the opportunity as a Fellow.

I found the application process quite humbling as I was then able to read what others said about me. A father of triplets who had felt unable to carry on after his wife had died shortly after their birth sent me photographs of his children filled with laughter and joy.

In his testimonial he wrote about the difference that health visiting had made and “dispelled in an instant all the myths I had heard before the birth about Health Visitors. He described that with support he felt able to push myself and, in a sense, the kids, to celebrate and live life to the max”.

The package of support, involving TAMBA and Norland nannies, resulted in the launch of a new national charity “Helping Hands” and provides a small glimpse of the work that health visitors do, working with others to find solutions in seemingly hopeless situations. Normally health visiting happens away from the public gaze, so it felt strange to acknowledge my achievements in such a public way.

I plan to use this prestigious role to promote excellence in health visiting: to continue to listen to our service users about the things that matter to them and advocate for services which are responsive to their needs; to raise awareness of the scope and potential of the health visiting role with partner agencies; in my role as a practice teacher to inspire students and enable them to deliver the highest standards of practice and as a researcher to contribute to the development of a rigorous evidence base for health visiting. My overriding aim is to ensure the continued development of a health visiting profession that is truly client-centred, is valued in the community and can evidence improved outcomes for children and families.

Alison Morton

(Specialist Practice Teacher/ Health Visitor)