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Health Visitors Week 26-30 September

Posted on the 26th September 2016

Next week is Health Visitor week (26-30 September). Health Visitors from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust will have the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the incredible work and opportunities to improve health outcomes that Health Visitors have working with children and families and communities.

Lorraine Chadwick, Service Integration Manager at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust who manages Health Visitors in Central Lancashire, said: “Every child is entitled to the best possible start in life and Health Visitors play an essential role in achieving this. By working with and supporting families during the crucial early years of a child’s life, Health Visitors have a major impact on the lifelong health and wellbeing of young children and their families. Being a Health Visitor is an extremely rewarding role and we are extremely proud of our Health Visitors. They deliver an exceptional service to one generation after another of parents and children. To celebrate the great work that they do, we’re marking Health Visitors Week to honour these unsung heroes.”

Cheryl Forrest, Service Integration Manager at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust who manages Health Visitors in East Lancashire, said: “Health Visitors are specialist community public health nurses who provide expert information, assessments and interventions for babies, children and families including first time mothers and fathers and families with complex needs. Health Visitors help to empower parents to make decisions that affect their family’s health and wellbeing and their role is central to improving the health outcomes of populations and reducing inequalities.

“The parent-infant relationship is at the heart of mental health for both infants and adults. Health Visitors are able to help parents understand their baby’s behaviour and promote the development of a close relationship between the parents and infants. Health Visitors Week gives us the chance to celebrate the work that our Health Visitors do and have been doing for a number of years.”

Health visitors are specialists in child health, child development and public health who work at community, family and an individual level to promote and improve health and wellbeing of pre-school children and their families. They deliver five key visits that all families can expect from the Health Visitors. These include an antenatal contact, within two weeks after birth, when the baby is between four to six weeks old, between nine and 15 months and between two and two-and-a-half years. Health Visitors play a crucial role in supporting families at such an important time and make a difference building stronger communities every day. They have the range of skills and knowledge to take action at the individual and community levels to help every child get the best start.

Every child is entitled to the best possible start in life and Health Visitors play an essential role in achieving this. By working with and supporting families during the crucial early years of a child’s life, Health Visitors have a profound impact on the lifelong health and wellbeing of young children and their families. The key to this is developing good partnership working, particularly with GPs, midwives, school nurses, early years’ workers and other colleagues.

Over the course of Health Visitors Week, health professionals from the Trust will be invited to attend a Health Visitors celebration event at the University of Central Lancashire for students on Tuesday 27 September and a health event at Blackburn Cathedral on Thursday 29 September.

Also a celebration event is to be held for over 50 Health Visitors from the Trust who have successfully completed specialist UK Government-recommended training called Neonatal Behaviour Observation (NBO) and Neonatal Behaviour Assessment Scale (NBAS). This means that Health Visitors who have completed the training are now well placed to help families, especially in promoting the infant parent relationship (see notes to editors for further details on this).

Case Study 1:

Michelle Sears-Hardy has been a Health Visitor for 8 years. She said: “It’s all about making relationships with people to encourage positive life choices. There’s a lot of satisfaction and pride in seeing children progress from when they were babies till they are 4. It makes you feel proud that you’ve been involved in helping that family.

“I was a Nursery Nurse for eight years before becoming a Health Visitor. When I became a nursery nurse, I realised there was a lot of health problems in children that weren’t being identified. This really made me think. I wanted to make a difference and help children be the best they could possibly be so trained to be a Health Visitor. We’re nurses in the community who meet the needs of the community within the community.”

Case Study 2:

Sarah Whalley is a Health Visitor with the Trust for the last 4 years: “After working as a Neonatal nurse for nearly 10 years and a Staff Nurse within the Community I then decided to train as a Health Visitor. I became interested in Health Visiting when I was a student nurse after a placement with a Health Visitor. I found the role rewarding and enjoyed visiting people at home. To become a Health Visitor you need to be a Nurse or Midwife and then complete the 1 year BSc in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing.

“We have an opportunity to build trust with families you and that makes a difference. It’s a great role and very satisfying. I think the opportunity to go into homes and work with families allows us to influence the outcomes for the children and the family we support and work with.”

“It’s an opportunity to work with everyone. This is sometimes within deprived areas and we get the chance to work with the community to break the intergenerational cycles of deprivation and disadvantage. We can encourage parents to make small changes that set families off on a different path and make us feel we’ve done something valuable.”

“We work with families with a number of issues such as domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse. We work with parents to help them understand the impact those behaviours can have on children. There’s immense satisfaction in encouraging positive behaviour. As health visitors, we identify health issues which then ultimately benefit families by ensuring they get the right support from other agencies and helping to improve the lives of those involved.”