A short new film is launched today: ‘Health visiting in your community’. This inspiring film showcases the breadth of health visitors’ work and their critical role in supporting the health and wellbeing of thousands and thousands of families every week.

View iHV short film: Health visiting in your community

As health visitors often work alone, or in small teams in families’ homes, their work is often hidden and it’s easy to overlook how important it is. The film captures the voices and stories of parents with a wide variety of different needs – they speak powerfully about the difference that the health visitor’s care and support made to their family when they needed it most.

In the UK, health inequalities are widening, and the cost-of-living crisis is pushing more families into poverty; health visitors are needed now, more than ever, to meet the scale of rising need.

The iHV’s film has taken many months to plan and develop – it was created in partnership with parents and frontline health visitors to appeal to parents, health and social care practitioners, government policy makers and commissioners, and to strengthen the case for health visiting by making the work of health visitors more visible.

The film was shot on location in multiple sites across the UK and captures just a small fraction of ‘real life’ for families. It follows health visitors in their working day, visiting babies, young children and families in their own homes and community settings to deliver a diverse range of care and support.

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director, commented:
“So often we hear that the work of health visitors is not widely understood. Whilst it is impossible to capture the full breadth of the health visitor’s role in just a few minutes, I am delighted that we have been able to shine a light on some of this incredible work in our film today. There are some powerful scenes in the film which captures glimpses of ‘real life’ and parents tell their own stories of the unforgettable difference that their health visitor made – health visitors were there when they needed them most. I am very grateful to the parents who shared their experiences so generously and the health visitors who are all a credit to our wonderful profession.”

Dame Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer England, said:
“This film highlights the important and unique role of health visitors. As specialist community public health nurses, they use their expertise to provide invaluable support to families, babies and children at such a significant time in their lives, while also carrying out crucial work in health promotion and reducing inequalities.”

Professor Mark Radford CBE, Chief Nurse for NHS Health Education England, said:
“This video is a wonderful collection of stories from our fantastic health visitors and the people they are supporting – every day in every community across the country.

“It is heart-warming to hear from the nurses playing such an important role in the health and development of babies and children. The smiles on the faces of the families they help says it all – being a health visitor can be the most rewarding job in the world!”

Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland, said:
“Health visiting in Scotland has rightly had significant investment in the number of health visitors. This was increased by 500 health visitors by the end of 2018. We have had a universal health visiting pathway in place for every family since January 2020. The Health Visitors Universal pathway follows the Getting it Right for Every Child principles, providing child and family-centred care in each unique circumstance.

“Health visitors are uniquely placed to support children and families, improving children’s long term emotional, social and physical development within their family unit which affects their future health, parenting and attainment into adult years. The trusting relationships that health visitors form with families start pre-birth and last until school. Health visitors offer that vital health and social wellbeing support for all families from early pregnancy and through early childhood. Their service improves the health, safety and wellbeing of families every day.”

Sue Tranka, Chief Nursing Officer for Wales, said:
“I am delighted to support the launch of this inspirational new film which describes the important work of health visitors and their teams. Health visiting provides an expert professional to support every parent and child, providing expert advice, health assessments and information to all new families. The service is key to the delivery of the Healthy Child Wales programme, a universal offer of health contacts for all children in the early years to ultimately ensure they have the best start in life.”

Wendy Nicholson, Deputy Chief Nurse & Head of WHO Collaborating Centre for Public health nursing, Office for Health Improvements and Disparities (OHID), said:
“I am delighted so see this film launched, it shows the breadth and dynamic nature of health visitors. This film highlights the vital role health visitors play in supporting and helping parents to give their child the best start in life. The skill, expertise, compassion and commitment shines through – and the difference for children and parents is a testament to public health nurses.”

David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“We are delighted to support the launch of ‘Health visiting in your community.’ This inspirational film highlights the vital support health visitors provide to babies, parents and families and exemplifies their key role in giving children the best start in life. The impact of this early support cannot be underestimated. It builds resilience, encourages healthy lifestyles and aids social and emotional development to allow children to thrive.”

Claire O’Meara, Head of UK Policy and Advocacy at the UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) said:
“Health visiting is the back-bone of early childhood support across the UK, offering a vital safety net for all families. Health visitors are highly trained professionals, there to help parents and carers with everyday challenges of parenting through to addressing complex needs. However, this core service is worryingly over-stretched in England, leading to many babies and their families missing out on this critical support. The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) is calling on the UK Government to commit to a ‘National Baby and Toddler Guarantee’ to ensure every child has access the support they need to give them the best start in life.”

Joe McCulloch, Executive Producer at BBC Education, said:
“This film really helps us to appreciate how vital health visitors are – to babies, to children, to families, to parents, to communities, to the health service. Providing that personal, reassuring expertise is invaluable and long may health visitors continue to play such a pivotal role in so many areas.”

Georgina Mayes, iHV Policy and Quality Lead, and the film’s Executive Producer, said:
“I’m delighted that we are able to launch this fantastic new film which captures how health visitors support families through the unexpected twists and turns of early parenthood. Parenting is hard and nothing completely prepares you for it. Poverty, mental health problems and other worries can make parenting even harder. Small problems can grow into big problems if unaddressed and getting support early from a health visitor can make a big difference. What happens in the earliest years of a child’s life matters, as it is during this time that the foundations for future health and wellbeing are laid. When parents and carers are supported, babies and young children thrive, and then all of society thrives.”

Please share the film far and wide using #HealthVisitorsMatter #CelebratingHealthVisiting

Alongside our main film, ‘Health visiting in your community’, the iHV has also produced a shorter film ‘Voices from practice’. In this 2½ minute film, some of the health visitor ‘stars’ from our main film above share a bit more about why they chose to become a health visitor and what the role means to them.