A new £265,000 study led by the University of Stirling is seeking to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected health visiting services across the UK, with a view to improving them in the future.

The 18-month project – funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) – will explore the changes that health visiting has experienced over the past two years and provide recommendations to enhance organisation and delivery as part of a strong post-pandemic recovery.

The project is led by Dr Erica Gadsby, a Senior Lecturer in Public Health from Stirling’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport, and also involves researchers at the Universities of Oxford and Kent.

Alison Morton, Executive Director of the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“Congratulations to the team, led by the University of Stirling, which has been awarded this prestigious NIHR funding.

“The last two years have been a period of tumultuous change, with health visiting services facing significant challenges in their efforts to support babies, young children and families. Health visitors responded rapidly with service innovations, but many of these adaptations have not been tested in the health visiting context and their impacts are largely unknown.

“This much-needed realist review will help us to gain a greater understanding of the pandemic response in order to learn lessons that can be applied to future emergencies, as well as strengthening the evidence base to support the embedding of new innovations and ways of working.”

The pandemic caused enormous pressure and disruption to child health services, as well as to families and young children, but it also prompted some important innovations in service delivery. The new study will explore how the pandemic affected health visiting services in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, with a view to understanding how the organisation and delivery of services can be improved for a stronger post-pandemic recovery.

The researchers will undertake a ‘realist review’, which is a type of theory-driven review of evidence. They will pull together different forms of information related to what has happened in health visiting services since March 2020 and use that to explore how the pandemic has affected services, service providers and families.

The team includes realist review, health visiting and public health experts, as well as a patient and public involvement lead. A stakeholder group – comprising practitioners, commissioners, policymakers, policy advocates, and members of the public – will advise and provide feedback throughout the project.

The team will work closely with the Institute of Health Visiting and the stakeholder group to ensure the findings of the study are developed into a range of outputs suitable for the various stakeholders and disseminated to the appropriate audience.

Dr Gadsby is supported on the project, Realist Review: Health Visiting in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic Experience (RReHOPE), by Professor Kendall; Dr Geoff Wong and Ms Claire Duddy (both of the University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences); and Mrs Madeline Bell (expert by experience).

A new NIHR Fellowship opportunity for those based in Local Authorities, but this time offering fully funded PhD fellowships (modelled on the ICA Programme CDRF).

This pilot scheme has been designed to support the academic ambitions of individuals wishing to develop as health and/or social care researchers whilst remaining employed within, or at least salaried to support, local authorities or local authority supporting services.

With the exception of doctors and dentists, who can already access equivalent dedicated funding opportunities, these awards are available to individuals of any profession or background. Applicants must, however, be employed by:

  • a local authority
  • non-NHS provider of local authority commissioned services
  • a non-profit organisation (such as a charity) that provides services on behalf of a local authority, or supports a local authority in meeting its objectives.

The scheme is now inviting applications which will close on 15 June.

The National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) is currently developing some new fully-funded fellowship opportunities that it plans to make available from early next year. These new fellowships will only be available to individuals based within local authorities and LA commissioned services.

These two pilot schemes are being designed to support individuals based in local authorities or local authority commissioned services to develop as health and/or social care researchers.

Pre-doctoral Fellowships for Local Authority and LA Commissioned Service Based Individuals

The scheme will fund individuals of any profession to undertake Masters level academic training and prepare an application for a doctoral fellowship whilst retaining their existing employment and practice.

Indicative timescales

  • Application forms available: 28 January 2021
  • Deadline for application submission: 18 March 2021
  • Award uptake by successful applicants: from 1 September 2021

Doctoral Fellowships for Local Authority and LA Commissioned Service Based Individuals

The scheme will fund individuals of any profession to obtain a PhD by research whilst concurrently developing their professional skills within their existing employment.

Indicative timescales

  • Application forms available: 1 March 2021
  • Deadline for application submission: Late April 2021
  • Award uptake by successful applicants: From 1 April 2022

 

We are delighted to share the news that Sharin Baldwin, one of our iHV Fellows, has completed her Clinical Doctoral Fellowship awarded by NIHR – and she is the only HV to receive this award!

Sharin, Clinical Academic Lead at London North West University Healthcare Trust, has also been awarded the NIHR Development and Skills Award, which she will be undertaking (part-time) at the Clinical Trials Unit at Warwick University from September 2020.

Well done Dr Sharin Baldwin! Many congratulations!

Sharin Baldwin RN, RHV, QN, FiHV, BSc (Hons), PG Dip, MSc, PhD

 

Great opportunity for iHV members interested in research

Are you passionate about research to support health visiting practice? An exciting opportunity has arisen for our members as part of research developments within the Institute of Health Visiting. We are working with the National Institute for Health Research to appoint a Health Visitor Research Champion within each Local Clinical Research Network (LCRN).

As a Champion you would be:

  • Working collaboratively with the iHV, NIHR, relevant research teams and other champions to support the development of portfolios of research
  • Working together to increase health visitor contribution to research studies
  • Supporting the development of a research-rich culture within the health visiting workforce
  • Contributing to a national forum of Champions including attendance at 3 National forum meetings a year
  • Contributing to national activities of the forum and health visiting including sharing of good practice and development of new ways of working
  • Supporting the creation of opportunities for more research careers in health visiting

We are looking for health visitors who have a masters, a doctorate or working towards one, and also some existing or prior direct involvement in research, as well as being a member of the iHV.

If you are interested, please go to the research section of our website for a more detailed role description and application form – please note that only iHV members can access the information sheet and application form.

Closing date: 22 June 2018  – please complete an application form and send it with a CV to: [email protected]

Date of first meeting for cohort 1:  10 or 18 July 2018 – TBC

A second cohort will be recruited in October if you can’t make the first set of dates.

The HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Internships Scheme across the North of England region is now open for applications for the 2018/19 cohort .

The scheme provides a range of both taught and academically supervised interventions that both engage and expose the intern to the clinical academic research environment and also provide them with the practical skills to undertake a research project supported by an expert clinical academic supervisor. The key components to the internship programme are:

  • a Clinical Academic Research Experience supported by supervision and research mentorship for 30 days.
  • an Educational Learning Package comprising of 4 days face to face learning and 4 days equivalent online distance learning.

By the end of the programme they hope that participants will have the confidence to apply their newly-learned skills within their employing Trusts, become research champions, and consider a future clinical academic career to include formally accredited education programmes, either within the HEE/NIHR Integrated Clinical Academic Programme, or via other routes. Interns will also benefit from an enhanced ability to apply successfully for further formal research training.

It is a 3-stage application process as follows:

  • All applicants are required to submit an Expression of Interest before Friday 20 April 2018. These will be assessed against the eligibility criteria.
  • Applicants who meet the eligibility criteria will be invited to submit a full application. The closing date for applications is Friday 4 May 2018. Applications will be shortlisted with the highest scoring applicants being invited to interview.
  • Interviews will be held on Monday 18 June 2018 in Sheffield, Tuesday 19 June 2018 in Newcastle, and Thursday 21 June 2018 in Manchester. Where possible, we will allocate you to an interview venue closest to your place of work.

For further details or to submit your Expression of Interest, see the website at www.shu.ac.uk/icainternships and follow on Twitter @ICAINorth

A team of University of Manchester researchers have found that changes are urgently needed in how parents are informed about newborn bloodspot screening to ensure they understand it and its consequences for them and their baby.

The research, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, suggests changes could be made which would not only ensure parents are better informed, but which could be more cost-effective than current practice.

Newborn screening is seen as one of the top public health advances of the developed world.

A blood sample taken soon after birth enables nine serious conditions such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell to be diagnosed within the first weeks of life, meaning that treatment and care can start immediately.

However, the information that has to be presented before screening is complex – relating to nine rare but very serious conditions.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, executive director iHV, commented on the research:

“This is very interesting research, but I can’t help but wonder whether it might have been helpful for the researchers to have considered the potential health visitor role in this as part of their antenatal visit.  That contact is timely being close to the birth and it could become part of a package of important information such as the immunisation programme which is discussed by the health visitor.”

 

 

This review brings together recent evidence on improving health and wellbeing before, during, and after pregnancy from studies funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

It brings together research for factors that can be modified before, during and after pregnancy. the research covers smoking, healthy diet and weight, alcohol and drugs, mental health, violence against women, and supporting families using multifaceted approaches.

Better Beginnings is not a comprehensive review of all evidence on improving health for pregnancy which is a broad area of knowledge and practice.  It focuses on building health for women to support pregnancy and the future health of their children.

This review complements other initiatives, drawing on best evidence, including guidance and quality standards from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Further sources of information and resources for each topic are signposted in this report.