Recently I have read a few mummy blogs and comments from parents on health visitors just visiting to tick a box! As public health nurses health visitors visit in order to do preventative work, many may see this as a waste of time, as they feel everything is fine and they do not need any help or advice and that they will seek medical attention if required. However, by doing this preventative work around health promotion, health visitors can potentially save money to health services and I’m sure everyone can agree this is a good thing as the NHS is struggling more and more with demand.
So the reason for my post, to explain the full role of the health visitor for others to understand and to stop frantic parents from over doing the cleaning and putting on a front just because the health visitor is coming. As you will see below in the image,
environment includes many factors which is included together with parenting and development to form a full picture. These areas are part of what I look for during my visits to your home and depending on the visit I will use different types of information or tools to complete these visits. Ideally when I visit I would have met you antenatally to introduce myself and the services we offer to parents or I may have met you in clinic before completing a developmental review on your child. What I am aware of before I meet you is that everyone is an individual and has different circumstances and that all children are different unique and will develop at different rates. I know this as I have 3 children myself and I also understand that children do not know how to adhere to the likes of Gina Ford or other parenting books. Parenting can be hard and stressful and parents need good support from family, friends and even professionals. Therefore, after weighing your baby, checking their development, discussing feeding, nappies, home safety, support networks, local groups etc I will also ask those 3 important words – ‘How are you?’ I will wait for your response, to see if there is a change in your voice or expression. I will ask how you are feeling both emotionally and physically and if you require any extra support. To me you are more than a statistic, a tick in the box or a mandatory contact, as if needed I will visit you again and offer further support. I will listen to your concerns, worries or anxieties and offer support and guidance when needed. I can signpost you to other qualified professionals or give you information on your local baby groups, to stop you feeling isolated and hopefully prevent any depression. If however you are low in mood we can work on this together, I can offer you listening visits or refer you to counselling services, I can liaise with your GP to offer you the full support needed and together we can talk about your feelings, whilst hopefully helping you to still bond with your child.
Please do not fear the health visitor but embrace us, tell us your concerns and worries and remember we are not the clean police! I understand that children have toys out, mine seem to follow me around and make a mess as I tidy, like you I am human and have those same battles as a parent as you do. My third child didn’t sleep well for over 3 years and believe me no amount of research, books or advice helped until he was ready to sleep and made that decision himself. So if asked about sleeping problems I may not be able to make your child sleep perfectly but I will be able to understand how you feel and give you the best evidence based advice I can!
To see more about the good work that Health visitors do, follow the CPHVA #whatisaHV on Twitter and see the link Here for the chance to join in their drawing competition on what is a HV.