The weekend has again quickly slipped away.
I have just finished my first week of placement in the community. I will spend 2 weeks shadowing a Health Visitor and then 9 weeks with a District Nurse. The role of the Health visitor is very specific and important. Their main responsibility is to promote health and support families antenatally and postnatally. They work along with other health professionals, such as midwives, to help parents give the best start in life possible for their children.
Health visitors work together with other professionals to provide support for service users. For example:
~The Healthy Child Programme (children 0-5 year old) This is a government programme aiming to improve the health of children up to the age of 5. It offers screening tests, immunisations, developmental reviews, physical and emotional wellbeing of infants and children and making healthy choices. Health visitors, as part of the programme, also give advice on breastfeeding, putting your baby/child to sleep, nutrition, vitamins, immunisations, attachment, and play.
~ CONI (Care Of the Next Infant) – this programme is offered by the Lullaby Trust and is created to support parents who have lost a baby due to a SUDI (Sudden and Unexpected Death of an Infant). When these parents have a new baby they can get extra support from the trust and weekly visit from the Health Visitor. Also, their newborn is closely monitored and weight and temperature are measured more often. In addition, parents are supported in keeping a Daily Record of Symptoms of their newborn to prevent another SUDI. Parents can borrow apnoea (breathing) monitor which alarms if a baby stops breathing.
~ MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) is a safeguarding network for children which works to protect children from abuse and neglect. Health Visitors along with Social workers and other professionals have a responsibility to carry out risk assessments and protect children from harm. They need to determine whether parents have capacity and provide adequate care for their children. Parents are supported through counselling and meetings.
~ Other responsibilities of the Health Visitor include an assessment of the following factors: the child’s developmental needs, family and environment, and parental capacity. Health Visitors give advice on parenting and make referrals to other professionals when more specialist support is needed. The most important skill of a Health Visitor is being a good listener and having excellent communication skills.