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Developing Resilience as a Pathway to Health

24th April 2014

Developing Resilience as a Pathway to Health: United Kingdom Standing Conference for University Educators and Practice Teachers

 Rutter (2001) suggests that key turning points, the opportunities and choices offered to us, are the most significant factor in determining resilient outcomes. The Health Visitor Implementation Plan (DH, 2011) is arguably Health Visiting’s ‘turning point’. It is therefore pertinent that the focus of the UKSC conference held in March this year in association with the National Forum of School Health Educators and the Association of Occupational Health Educators was on developing the resilience of the SCPHN profession. Contributor presentations explored the themes of ‘starting out’, ‘staying with it’ and ‘resilient communities’. A selection of the some of the day’s presentations is summarized below[1].

 Joanna Bosanquet, Deputy Director of Nursing Public Health England and our Keynote speaker, spoke of our need for courage, of authentic leadership, and a commitment to addressing the inequalities agenda. This requires a skilled workforce, development of partnership working with our Public Health colleagues, and collaboration with the communities we practice in. Lyn Sayer, from Kings College London, highlighted findings from a study exploring and evaluating different experiences and opinions of fast track recruitment of newly qualified nurses onto the SCPHN programme. The study demonstrated the pivotal role that practice teachers and mentors play in facilitating student learning, highlighting a need for developing effective systems to support practice teachers and mentors in this vital role. In addition, all newly qualified health visitors were suggested to require preceptorship, with current preceptorship models in use needing evaluation to assess their effectiveness.

Judy Brook, from the University of the West of England, presented her findings on a study exploring the impact of the Health Visitor Implementation Plan. Interviews conducted with students, stakeholders and parents, showed both positive findings as well as areas of challenge for the profession. Students, following completion of their SCPHN health visiting pathway programme approached their new roles with enthusiasm, inspired by the programme and looking forward to taking up their autonomous roles. They anticipated though the tensions of managing and negotiating the theory practice gap, particularly in relation to meeting the broader public health element of the SCPHN role. Parent’s perspectives of the new service model were mixed. Some reported experiencing health visitors who were prepared to ‘go the extra mile’, who appeared caring, knowledgeable, skilled and up to date. Others referred to the poor relationship they had with health visitors and their lack of credibility. An overarching theme throughout all the interviews was the issue of lack of time and resources.

While contributors presented evidence of the profession’s strengths many challenges were also highlighted, serving to remind us of our professions’ vulnerability. Without vulnerability though there can be no scope for developing our resilience.


Department of Health (2011) Health Visitor Implementation Plan 2011-2015: A Call To action, DH, London

 Rutter, M. (2001) ‘ The context of youth violence: risk, resilience and recovery’ In J. Richman and M. Fraser (eds) The Context of Youth Violence. Praeger Publishers, ch 2, pp.13-39.



Dr. Jane March-McDonald

Vice Chair UKSC

Deputy Programme Lead for SCPHN Education

University of Southampton

[1] All the presentations can be downloaded from the UKSC on SCPHN Education website

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