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North of England Research Group

11th February 2014

I am a newly qualified Health Visitor with a background in paediatric research nursing, so to have the opportunity to become involved in my two passions health visiting and research was like manna from heaven and gratefully received! During December I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural meeting of the North of England (NoE) Health Visiting Research Group.

The goal for this new research group is to bring together those health visitors in the North of England involved in or wishing to develop research that will strengthen the knowledge base relevant to health visiting practice. The group was co-facilitated by Dr Karen Whittaker (from the University of Central Lancashire) and Dr Sue Peckover (from the University of Huddersfield). Those in attendance included both new and experienced health visitor researchers; from the newly qualified to those with a wealth of experience but always looking for ways to improve practice to provide the best care to children and families. I found it to be a vibrant forum where ideas were shared, learnt and encouraged. It was energising offering the opportunity to meet with like-minded colleagues to form collaborations and motivation.

The meeting was hosted by Dr Sue Peckover at the University of Huddersfield and, as most of us had travelled some distance, we gratefully demolished the yummy muffins offered on our arrival. Initially we discussed the practical aspects of the group such as the group’s purpose and terms of reference. Following this we were privileged to hear from the speakers. Dr Karen Whittaker discussed highlights from the National Nursing Research Unit (King’s College, London) Health Visitor Research Programme, highlighting the purposeful orientation to practice held by health visitors and the practice desire to make a difference to children and families. Dr Sue Peckover provided insight into mobile working and health visiting. Finally, Karen Adams, Senior lecturer from the University of Huddersfield spoke with passion and enthusiasm about her current doctorate work into the education needs of Community Practice Teachers.

We further discussed how the group could support continuing research in the field of health visiting. The drive is towards demonstrating evidence based practice, however there are difficulties for attributing outcomes to health visiting involvement.

The group hopes to explore the possibility of developing a professional affiliation with the Institute of Health Visiting, which was launched in November 2012 to promote excellence in health visiting practice to benefit all children, families and communities. Future NoE Health Visitor research group meetings are to be planned once a semester, alternating the venue across the North of England. New members are welcome and should contact [email protected] to join the emailing list.

It is further hoped that this development will stimulate interest in other parts of the country and that colleagues in the South of England will develop plans for a similar forum. Eventually creating an England wide ‘community of practice’ focused on developing research and knowledge about and for health visiting practice. This newly qualified health visitor went home enthusiastic, energised and eager to share her experience with colleagues.

Melanie Farman


Health Visitor Practitioner

Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde NHS Trust.

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