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Health visiting: getting our children off to the strongest possible start

The start of life is a crucial time for children and parents, and presents an excellent opportunity to improve health outcomes for children and families. Well-resourced health visiting services can ensure that families have a positive start when they work in partnership with GPs, maternity and other health services, Sure Start Children’s Centres and other early year’s services.

The new vision for the health visiting service includes a commitment to create a bigger, rejuvenated workforce with an extra 4,200 health visitors by 2015 and an improvement in the quality of the health visiting service for children and families.

Delivering this vision involves joint working between the profession and the Department of Health, as well as strategic involvement of stakeholders across the early years profession.

Pauline Watts, Professional Officer for Health Visiting at the Department of Health, who is driving this initiative forward, comments:

“Our vision is to provide a strong start for all children. This cannot be achieved by health visitors alone. This is why partnership working with all of those who work with children and families is essential.”

For further information about health visiting please visit our website.

What services do health visitors offer?
Under the new health visiting model, health visiting teams offer four levels of service to families with children under five:

Your community has a range of services, including some Sure Start services and the services families and communities provide for themselves. Health visitors work to develop these and make sure local families know about them.

Universal services from a health visitor and team provide the Healthy Child Programme to ensure a health start for children and families (for example immunisations, health and development checks), support for parents and access to a range of community services / resources

Universal plus offers rapid response from the local HV team when specific expert help is needed for example with postnatal depression, a sleepless baby, weaning or answering any concerns about parenting

Universal partnership plus provides ongoing support from the HV team plus a range of local services working together and with families, to deal with more complex issues over a period of time. These include services from Sure Start Children’s Centres, other community services including charities and, where appropriate, the Family Nurse Partnership

The service will be available in convenient local settings, including Sure Start Children’s Centres, and health centres, as well as through home visits.

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