Previous I have given an insight into the health visiting role in relation to service delivery and commissioning. However, our role consists of far more than the core contacts we report on each month. Here is an insight into a working day for myself, however two days are never the same.
8am Arrive at the office ready to start the day, check my diary for the day, read emails and check messages to see if any visits have been cancelled. Read the records of the visits I have planned, to see if there are any updates I should know about regarding the families I am due to see.
Next I have to rearrange another staff members 1:1 to later in the day, as we are unable to complete it this morning.
I find that two days are never the same which is what makes my job both interesting and rewarding, along with knowing that the work health visitors do is preventative and can help against future problems.
10am My morning visits begin and my first appointment is for an antenatal contact. Unfortunately, there is no answer at the address. I leave a card to inform of the missed appointment and ask the client to contact me to arrange another date.
Antenatal contacts are one of the 5 mandated contacts set out by the government and form part of the healthy child programme. The antenatal in most cases is the first time a health visitor will meet with parents, occasionally the health visitor may already have children from that family on their caseload so may already know the parents. Antenatal contacts are offered from around 28 weeks gestation and offers the parents opportunity to complete a health needs assessment on physical and emotional health, to discuss attachment and bonding, child development and transition to parenthood. It also allows parents to be introduced to the health visiting service and discuss the support available to families and to identify those requiring additional services.
10:10am Return to the office and input the missed appointment into the records. If I don’t here from the family then I will offer another appointment in a few weeks time.
Whilst I wait to attend my next visit I then look through my caseload to check any children who require discharging to the school health team. I find that one child does not have a school recorded, so I send a letter asking parents for school details in order to send records to the correct school health team. I also have time to discharge a couple of other children whose details are known.
11am my next visit is for a 6-8 week review for a baby who I have met previously at the new birth visit and whose mother received an antenatal visit from myself. These reviews allow parents to discuss any concerns they may have about their baby’s health and development and often includes a conversation around feeding.
This visit is also the chance to see how parents are managing and to ask if the mother has recovered from the birth, so an assessment of both physical and emotional health will occur. The 6 week review is a good time to assess for postnatal depression and your health visitor may ask you the following questions:
- During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
- During the past month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
- Is this something you feel you need or want help with?
It is important for you to share your feeling and emotions with others if you find you are struggling. Health visitors can offer additional support if you are struggling with your mood and can offer listening visits or referrals to other services if required. Some fathers can also find the birth of a child to be stressful and emotionally challenging, if this occurs then they too must seek advice for low mood.
12pm Back to the office for lunch (away from my desk if I can but some days this isn’t possible). I then check on any new tasks and emails I may have received, whilst I have been out and also review the afternoon appointments.
1pm I attend a Common assessment framework (CAF) meeting at a school for a child with autism. This meetings allows professionals and parents to come together and make sure everything is in place which the child needs and any concerns can be raised. You can read more about CAF’s in the link here.
2pm Back to the office again and there are some new birth visits which have been referred into us, so I allocate these within the team based on who has capacity and if a certain team member has conducted an antenatal visit to the family. I also have to update my diary for the next few weeks and send out some appointment letters needed for upcoming visits. I also use this opportunity to answer some emails or telephone calls.
My next task is to complete a referral to a mental health service for a mother who I spoke with recently. Unfortunately, due to her needs I am unable to give her the support she requires and so a referral to other professionals is needed. I am however still available for her discuss any concerns with her child and to support her through the process.
3pm I now have time out with a staff member to complete a 1:1, these are carried out on a 3 monthly basis to discuss any concerns the staff member may have and to discuss performance, sickness, etc.
4pm For the rest of the day I write up my records in the office from today’s visits to make sure that all contacts are recorded accurately. I will check my diary for tomorrow before finishing for the day.
As discussed earlier no two days are the same so this is just an insight into one particular day and gives a little information about the types of contacts we deliver to families.