The Duchess of Cambridge will host a roundtable at the Royal Institution today to mark the release of new research from The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood.

A year on from its launch, The Centre for Early Childhood will be unveiling the findings of new research into early childhood development, as The Duchess of Cambridge and the Centre host a small roundtable to discuss the results and broader importance of early childhood development to society.

The roundtable will be attended by representatives from the early years sector; the Secretary of State for Health, Sajid Javid; the Minister for Families, Will Quince; and officials from the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education. Together, they will discuss the findings of the research published today, and the huge opportunity that there is to shape the future of our society by focusing on the importance of early childhood to lifelong outcomes.

Conducted by Ipsos UK on behalf of The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, the research comes two years after The Duchess’s landmark survey – ‘5 Big Questions on the Under-Fives’ – which attracted the largest ever response to a public survey of its kind with over 500,000 responses in one month, sparking a national conversation on the early years. The research delves even deeper into public perceptions of early childhood, focusing on three key areas: the prioritisation of the early years; the link between the first five years of life and lifelong outcomes for mental health and wellbeing; and the support parents seek when raising young children.

Seven in ten people say the early years should be more of a priority for society.

Earlier this year, The Duchess travelled to Denmark where she learnt about how the Danish approach has created an enabling culture for early childhood development, specifically how it has promoted infant mental wellbeing alongside physical health, and how it harnesses the power of nature, relationships and playful learning in the first five years of life. The service in Denmark is modelled on the health visiting service in England. However, in contrast, the work to support families in the earliest years in Denmark is a national priority and the workforce is afforded much higher status and greater investment than their counterparts in England.

Today’s research also follows over a decade of work by Her Royal Highness in which she has seen first-hand how some of today’s hardest social challenges have their roots in the earliest years of a person’s life. The Duchess is committed to raising awareness of the importance of early childhood experiences and of collaborative action to improve outcomes across society. She launched The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood in June 2021.

Speaking about the research published today, The Duchess of Cambridge said:

“Our experiences in early childhood fundamentally impact our whole life and set the foundation for how we go on to thrive as individuals, with one another, as a community and as a society.

“The findings published today present us with a huge opportunity and demonstrate there is real appetite from the public to bring this issue up all of our agendas. There is more we can all do – every member of society can play a key role, whether that is directly with a child or by investing in the adults around them – the parents, the carers, the early years workforce and more.

“If we come together to raise the importance of early childhood development, we’ll soon see that healthy, happy individuals make for a healthier, happier world. Which is why every second we spend with a child, is an investment in our collective future.”

Alison Morton, iHV Executive Director, says:

“The findings from today’s research, alongside the long-term commitment of the Duchess of Cambridge to raising awareness of the importance of early childhood experiences, provide an opportunity to shift the needs of babies and young children higher up the national agenda. With such a vast body of evidence making the case for investment in the earliest years of life, we hope that today’s Roundtable will ‘light the touch paper’ for the change that so many of us who work in this field have hoped for – but hope is not enough. In the words of the Duchess of Cambridge, there is definitely ‘more we can do’ and it starts in the heart of government.”

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).

iHV welcomes new Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) economic research report which shows that health visiting has a clinically effective and cost-effective role in perinatal mental health care: The economic case for increasing access to treatment for women with common mental health problems during the perinatal period.

 

  • Independent research commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), conducted by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), estimates the costs and benefits of addressing unmet maternal mental health needs.
  • The report presents the clear economic benefits from training midwives and health visitors in perinatal mental health and enabling their work with pregnant and postnatal women.
  • Changes to standard practice could have a net economic benefit of £490 million over ten years; £52 million in NHS savings and quality of life improvements worth £437 million
  • Universal services such as health visiting and midwifery have a clinically effective and cost-effective role in perinatal mental health care, identifying women in need or at risk, and facilitating access to or providing treatment as part of their routine work with women during and after pregnancy.
  • The report recommends scaling-up integrated provision across the UK as both desirable and viable from an economic perspective.

In a new study commissioned by the MMHA, researchers from LSE evaluated the economic viability of reforming current treatment for pregnant and postnatal women experiencing common maternal mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

The report, ‘The economic case for increasing access to treatment for women with common mental health problems during the perinatal period’, estimates the costs and benefits of a model of care which could give women’s mental health the same priority as their physical health. The model, which focuses on the essential role of midwives and health visitors, would allow for women’s mental wellbeing to be accurately assessed at every routine contact and suitable treatments to be offered.

The proposed ‘integrated model of care’ would include dedicated maternal mental health training for health visitors and midwives as well as greater collaboration with other healthcare services.

In the report, resources needed to set up and provide this model of care – namely employment and training costs – are measured against their economic return. Researchers conclude that it could lead to cost savings of £52 million for the NHS over 10 years, and improvements in women’s quality of life estimated at £437 million. In total, this is a net benefit of £490 million over 10 years.

Policy analysis by MMHA member, Centre for Mental Health, determines that equitable integrated service provision is the logical and economical next step in the evolution of perinatal mental health care in the UK. It would close a major gap and ensure women get timely access to help for their mental health needs.

Alison Morton, Executive Director iHV, said:

“Even before COVID-19, there were many system challenges to ensuring that all families had access to the right care and treatment, at the right time, for their mental health and wellbeing. Against a backdrop of rising levels of unmet need, we now need to do better. I am therefore delighted to see this robust and long-awaited research published today – it  presents a sound economic case for health visiting, as an  evidence-based solution to some of these challenges, with a fully costed model of care which demonstrates significant savings alongside improving the lives of families experiencing perinatal mental health problems.

“This report is a significant resource for policy makers looking to deliver the Government’s Start for Life commitment to improve parents’ access to perinatal mental health support and give every child  the best start in life. With such clear evidence, it is vital that the Government acts now to strengthen the health visiting service in England as part of an effective integrated system of perinatal mental health support for families.”

Melita Walker, Head of Mental Health iHV, added:

“Mental health problems in the perinatal period are common and as all families have a health visitor, they are ideally placed to offer skilled, professional support quickly when it’s needed. However, current shortages of health visitors make that difficult, and many families are missing out on effective early help for common mental health problems.

“This new report demonstrates that health visiting has a clinically effective and cost-effective role in perinatal mental health care, identifying families at risk of or suffering from mental health problems and facilitating access to, or providing, effective evidence-based treatments as part of their routine work with women and their families during the perinatal period.

“Ensuring all health visitors have the training and time to meet women’s mental health needs is a sound investment that would make a difference to many thousands of women and their families. Furthermore, this timely new economic evidence strengthens the findings and recommendations highlighted in the latest research by Professor Jane Barlow, on the unique leadership role of Specialist Health Visitor in Perinatal and Infant Mental Health in supporting effective integrated PIMH services.”

If we are serious about using sound evidence to make the biggest difference, then going forward we need to:

  1. Build back our health visitor numbers
  2. Ensure all health visitors have appropriate capacity and high-quality training in family mental health
  3. Have a Specialist PIMH Health Visitor supporting families in every Local Authority in England, every Health Board in Wales and Scotland and every Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland.

 

Exciting and unique opportunity with the Institute of Health Visiting

Research Associate

Based in North East England


We are seeking an ambitious, enthusiastic fixed-term, part-time Research Associate with experience in perinatal mental health / public health research to support the evaluation of the Stockton Perinatal Support Service. The post holder will work as part of a team at the iHV to deliver this work.

The individual would need to be dynamic, proactive, flexible and have the ability to work independently. They will be required to contribute to all elements of the evaluation, this will include: helping to conduct literature reviews and evidence syntheses; develop study protocols and materials (e.g. interview topic guides and questionnaires); supporting applications for ethical approvals; conducting data collection and analysis; and contributing to research write up. Given the mixed-methods nature of the planned evaluation, this post would suit someone with strong and demonstrable qualitative and quantitative research skills.

Key Requirements

Applicants should have completed or nearly completed a PhD in Health Sciences/Psychology/Public Health/related discipline or related area and a Bachelor’s degree in health or social science.

The successful candidate must have experience of collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data. Excellent interpersonal skills, willingness and ability to work collaboratively and effectively as part of a team remotely and in person, in-depth knowledge of research design and methods relevant to applied health research, the potential to publish in high quality journals, and excellent oral and written communication skills are essential.

This role does not meet the eligibility requirements for a tier 2 certificate of sponsorship under UK Visas and Immigration legislation. Therefore, the iHV will not be able to sponsor individuals who require right to work in the UK to carry out this role.

 

We particularly welcome applications from black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates, LGBTQ+ candidates and candidates with disabilities because we would like to increase the diversity of the workforce within the Institute of Health Visiting to be more representative of the community.

Applications close: Closing date anticipated to be 9.00 am on Monday 8 November 2021, but application may close early due to the urgency in commencing this work. Candidates are recommended to apply as soon as possible.

 

The 0-19ResNet is an initiative that is aimed at public health professionals working with the 0-19s.

The primary aim of this initiative is to support and increase the participation and recruitment of children and families in health services and public health research. It also aims to increase research engagement and capacity of public health professionals working with the 0-19 age group. They are looking to broaden their reach even further and would welcome new members.

Dates for diaries (for next Network virtual get togethers)

  • Thursday 11 February 2021, 11:00-13:00
  • Tuesday 30 March 2021, 11:00-13:00

 

Health visitors across England are to be trained to use a toolkit which can identify very young children with speech, language and communication problems. They will use a simple word list and child observation – known as the Early Language Identification Measure (ELIM) – during routine home visits when children are aged between two and two-and-a-half years.

Research shows the ELIM can identify 94% of toddlers with early language needs. Numerous research studies have shown that children with delayed language development do worse at school and have poorer outcomes later in life. It can also signal other developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Early Language Identification Measure (ELIM) and intervention was successfully piloted in five areas – Derbyshire, Middlesbrough, Newham, Wakefield and Wiltshire – and will help make sure that families who need more help are identified and supported appropriately and in a timely way.

The research, led by Newcastle University and including Aberdeen University, the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Unit and the Institute of Health Visiting, was published in a new Public Health England report – Identifying and supporting children’s early language needs Summary report.

Vicky Gilroy, Projects and Evaluation Lead at Institute of Health Visiting, commented:

“The Institute of Health Visiting is delighted to have contributed to this exciting research and the development of the Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention. This work builds on the health visitor Speech Language and Communication training that the iHV was commissioned to deliver by PHE last year, where we designed and delivered training to over 1000 health visitors to cascade to their local teams.

“With a more robust tool to support health visitors in their practice, early intervention and support can be offered to families to promote speech language and communication, alongside offering tailored interventions to support those with needs.”

Public Health England will roll out training to support health visitors in using the new Early Language Identification Measure (ELIM) and intervention tool alongside their wider guidance on Best Start in Speech, Language and Communication.

  • Guidance to help improve SLC in the early years, including an Early Language Identification Measure and Intervention tool for use with children aged 2 to 2 and a half.

Exciting and unique development opportunity with the Institute

Research Associate – Based in North East England

Please note: short closing date due to start date of the study

We are seeking an ambitious, enthusiastic Research Associate, with experience in public health research to support the delivery of the BabyBreathe NIHR Trial in the Newcastle site, to join the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) for fixed-term period of thirty-nine months. The post is available from October, following successful appointment. The research is grant funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) working within the North East of England.

The Research Associate will be supporting a randomised trial of a postpartum relapse prevention intervention developed through an early phase intervention development study. The post holder will work as part of a team alongside Vicky Gilroy as the Principle Investigator for the Newcastle site from the iHV, supported by a team of experts in smoking cessation and working with the trial manager as part of the Norwich Clinical Trials Unit.

The individual would need to be dynamic, proactive, flexible and have the ability to work independently. They will be required to contribute to all elements of the research, this will include: helping to conduct literature reviews and evidence syntheses; supporting the development of study protocols and materials (e.g. interview topic guides and questionnaires); managing applications for ethical approvals; helping to deliver the training intervention; conducting data collection and analysis; contributing to research write up. Given the mixed-methods nature of the planned research, this post would suit someone with strong and demonstrable qualitative and quantitative research skills.

Key Requirements

Applicants should have a relevant master’s in health or social science, and it is desirable to have completed or near completed a PhD in Health Sciences/Psychology/Public Health/related discipline.

The successful candidate must have experience of collecting and analysing qualitative and quantitative data. Excellent interpersonal skills, willingness and ability to work collaboratively and effectively as part of a team remotely and in person, in-depth knowledge of research design and methods relevant to applied health research, the potential to publish in high quality journals and excellent oral and written communication skills are essential.

This role does not meet the eligibility requirements for a tier 2 certificate of sponsorship under UK Visas and Immigration legislation. Therefore, the iHV will not be able to sponsor individuals who require right to work in the UK to carry out this role.

Applications close: anticipated to be midnight 23 September, but applications may close early due to the urgency in commencing this work. Candidates are recommended to apply as soon as possible.

Interviews: 2 October between 11:00 and 14:00 please keep that day clear in your diary.

For further information or an informal conversation about this post please contact Vicky Gilroy [email protected]

Exciting and unique opportunity with the Institute of Health Visiting

Research Associate

Based in Kent, Essex  or London


Applications are invited for a Research Associate at the Institute of Health Visiting (iHV) for a fixed term period of ten months. The post is available from early March, following successful appointment. The research is funded by Health Education England (HEE) working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Applications are invited from highly motivated researchers with an interest in public health, doctor-patient communication, behaviour change, implementation science and/or health services research to join the iHV as a research associate. The post holder will join the research team to work on the, “Improving the delivery of different news study 2”. This study follows the feasibility study which was completed in 2019. It is an applied research study involving both families and Healthcare Professionals (HCPs) to establish best practices for delivering different news to families. “Different news” describes the process of imparting information relating to an unborn child or a newborn having a condition associated with a learning disability. This mixed-methods study aims to expand on the findings of the feasibility study and to develop, deliver and evaluate a training intervention to improve the process of delivering different news to families. The post holder, who will have a doctorate relevant to requirements of the post, will be based in Kent or Essex and will be prepared to travel within their post.

Applications close: 9.00 am on Thursday 20 February 2020 

Interviews:  Monday 2 March 2020 

Start date: ideally early March 2020

iHV is delighted to support Infant Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 (#IMHAW19) organised by the Association for Infant Mental health UK (AIMH).

IMHAW19 runs from Monday 10 June to Friday 14 June – and the topic this year is “Difficult Beginnings”. Each day of the week has themes and AIMH will be releasing relevant articles each day throughout the week to include:

  • Day 1: Difficult Beginnings: Pregnancy
    • Finding out your baby has a genetic disorder. How that impacts Parental Foetal Attachment in pregnancy and beyond. 
  • Day 2: Difficult Beginnings: Birth
    • How a traumatic or difficult birth impacts the baby and parent-infant relationship. 
  • Day 3: Difficult Beginnings: After Birth
    • How the baby and parent-infant relationship is impacted by a stay in SCBU/NICU.
  • Day 4: Difficult Beginning: First Few Months
    • When previous losses get in the way of the parent-infant attachment. 
  • Day 5: Difficult Beginnings: Getting Some Help
    • If things aren’t going well in pregnancy or following the birth of the baby, it is important for parents to seek help.

In support of the theme of the first day, we are pleased to reshare information on one of our current mental health research projects –  Improving the Delivery of Different News to Families by Healthcare Professionals.

About the research project

The term “different news” is to describe the process of imparting and receiving sad, bad or difficult information relating to a foetus or neonate. Being told different news is a life changing event for parents – potentially triggering perinatal mental illness and more. How parents are told is critical as it can determine how they cope and adjust in response to the news. The delivery of different news is necessary part of healthcare practice. Many practitioners receive little formal training on how to tell parents different news.

To improve the delivery of different news we are conducting research to develop a training programme for healthcare professionals.

This is being conducted over two phases. For the first phase, we collected the experiences of parents who have received different news relating to their child and also took healthcare professionals’ experiences of delivering this news to parents. These experiences are being used to inform the training programme to improve the delivery of different news.

 

 

 

The Institute of Health Visiting has launched a new Research Champions scheme for health visitors (HVs) interested in research. Set up in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the scheme has appointed its first ten Champions.

Health Visitor Research Champions meet to kick off new HV Research Champions scheme

Health Visitor Research Champions meet to kick off new HV Research Champions scheme

The new HV Research Champions met for the first time at NIHR to learn how to develop their role and will be mentored by existing midwifery champions and supported by the local NIHR Clinical Research Networks (CRNs).  Ultimately there will be 15 research champions, one for each CRN region.

Dr Cheryll Adams CBE, Executive Director at the Institute of Health Visiting, said:

“This is a very exciting development for the Institute, we have seen how successful the Midwifery Champions have been in supporting research for mothers and babies and it is fantastic to now be developing a similar capacity in health visiting.

“For the Champions themselves and their employers, this is an opportunity to much more closely engage with the many national research programmes.”

The HV Research Champions will:

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

The HV Research Champions have a masters, a doctorate or are working towards one, and also some existing or prior direct involvement in research, and they are also members of the iHV.

Further opportunities to become a HV Research Champion include the following regions: South West Peninsula; North West Coast; Kent, Surrey and Sussex; Thames Valley; and West of England. Closing date for applications is 7 September 2018.

For more details and how to apply – https://ihv.org.uk/our-work/research/research-champions/