I have recently read again about the negativity around health visitors and how parents are keeping information from them during contacts. My question Why? Why are health visitors so feared by parents so much, in particularly mothers who feel that they must hide certain details from their health visitor or over clean the house. Do we see so much hate towards other professionals, the answer is No we don’t. Would we see mothers refusing a midwife, probably not! Yet the health visitor is seen to be unwanted and one which is refused by parents.
Read any parenting site and there will be some variety of health visitor bashing. The newest nickname I have read for the health visitor is the Draconian, one which I feel is harsh and unfair. Health Visitors are specialists in their field of 0-5 years and offer evidence based advice to parents. However, they can only do this, if parents are open and honest with them, in order to provide best advice.
In 2011, there was a government drive to increase health visitor numbers to 4200 by April 2015, despite a good increase in numbers the target was not met but the workforce was significantly improved in most areas. However, since the change in commissioners and reduced government funding for public health, again health visitor numbers are in decline. Some may think this is good news but in reality if health visitor numbers decline then caseload numbers increase, this means that each health visitor will have more children and less time to spend supporting families. Because don’t get me wrong there are families who very much appreciate their health visitor and I actively have those families who will ring me when they are concerned and who welcome my visits. Unfortunately these positive cases are hidden by the negativity.
If there were no health visitors, who would people turn too, as children centres continue to close, GP’s have limited appointments and will often refer to the health visitor for specialist advice or what about over stretched A&E departments, where you could wait for hours to be seen, when you could have visited your health visitor for advice around your childs development, feeding issue or minor illness.
My message to you all is to Love you Health Visitor. They really are worth much more than the negative comments and can support you, if you let them. Health visitors must be open and honest with families, so please do so back and enable your health visitor to provide the best evidence based advice for you and your child.