What Are the Opportunities and Challenges Facing Community Health Visiting at the Present Time Bearing in Mind the Changes in the Nhs?’

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What are the opportunities and challenges facing Community Health Visiting at the present time bearing in mind the changes in the NHS?’

This essay discusses some of the oppertuities and challenges facing Health visitors today, It outlines changes, strategies and plans commisioned by the National Health Service (NHS), Department Of Health (DOH) and the Government to ensure families have a positive start. The aim is to strengthen the Health Visiting team and provide continued care using communication, information sharing and multi disciplinary team work.

Looking at the positive side of Community Health Visiting and the oppertunities it provides for the public, is extremely eye opening to the possibilities it offers the community. Health visiting is a universal service, providing help and support to all families who are expecting their first child, or already have young children. Because everyone recieves a primary visit, there is not the stigma attached to a health visitor appointment like there is to a social worker appointment. Because of this it is easier to engage with families and build relationships. Throughout Britain the rate of poverty and the lack of good solid education is rife in the underprivilidged areas. A good Community Health Visiting team can implement big changes in Health and Wellbeing as well as attitudes and understanding. Following the completion of training the Health Visitor is able to utilise resources such as Sure Start children's centres. These centres introduced in 2003 are invaluable in providing a base where interprofessional teams can access vulnerable families and introduce them to many opportunities including, health promotion, education, advice and support. They offer the opportunity for Community teams to supervise play and interactions, enabling them to identify needs and establish early recognition where there is a risk of deterioration to an individual or a family’s health or social wellbeing. The team are able to provide the support required in ensuring that every child achieves the five outcomes introduced in the ‘Every Child Matters’ agenda. The centres also provide a base for interprofessional communication, enabling practitioners to make referrals to many different agencies for example to CAMHS or to propose the need for a CAF referral.

The Healthy Child Programme updated edition in 2009 discusses the importance of the early identification of need and risk, as do the papers Safeguarding Children and Working Together. The need to put preventative measures in place early to ensure vulnerable adults and children are kept safe, are fundamental to enable communities to achieve the six policy objectives recommended in the Marmot Review ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’. The Health Visiting team are instrumental in supporting and educating families from pregnancy until school age when the school nursing team take over. Confidential sharing of information is vital in ensuring continuation of care. The need for a good Health visiting team for new parents is invaluable, from being able to support breastfeeding and weaning to advising on good positioning and the risks of sudden infant death syndrome.

The proposals in the ‘Health Visitor Implementation Plan’ to expand and strengthen health visiting services, along with the important new investment through Department of Health budgets to provide 4,200 extra health visitors by 2015, should enable stronger links with local health services such as the Sure Start children centres, social services, family support workers, GP’s and many more. By increasing the number of Health Visitors, communities will benefit greatly from being able to access the support they need to recognise their strengths and improve their confidence giving their children the best start in life. The challenges faced by Community Health Visitors can include a negative opinnion of their role by the public.This highlights the importance of using interpersonal skills to...
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