Public health (PH) is an issue continually on the UK Government agenda and one in which it is anticipated that all health professionals will participate in (Nuttall, 2008). PH focuses on the health and well-being of a society and is the most effective means of protecting and improving it. It addresses the root causes of illness and disease, including the interacting social environmental, biological, and psychological dimensions, as well as the provision of effective health services. PH relies on evidence, judgement and skills and promotes the participation of the populations who are themselves the subject of policy and action (United Kingdom Public Health Association (UKPHA), 2008).
Health promotion is a process of enabling people to increase control over their own health to improve their health status. It is any planned action that promotes health and prevents disease. Health promotion involves developing self-esteem and social skills so that people are empowered to take action on their own health or that of their environment. It can happen on a one to one basis with the nurse/patient relationship, a group session or the use of a mass media campaign (World Health Organisation (WHO), 2004).
The PH event which was addressed, involved talking to mothers about oral mouth care for their baby/child. The event took place at a mother and baby drop in clinic, held at the Sure Start centre. This was a relevant topic to the area, according to the WHO oral healthy programme (2007), 60-90% of school children worldwide have dental cavities. The percentage number of children aged 3-5 registered with a dentist in 2008 was 47.5% compared to N.Ireland which was 61.2% (Northern Ireland Statistics Research Agency (NISRA), 2008). Also a recent survey carried out by the Oak Healthy Living Centre (2008) showed that 80% of the people surveyed eat fewer portions of fruit and vegetables, than while just less than one in ten had the recommended five portions a day. It was a popular topic to talk about as most mothers can relate to it.
Being a health visitor, involves them providing a universal service for the individual and the community. Health visitors have an important role to play in public health. The role of a health visitor is about the promotion of health and the prevention of illness in all age groups (NHS, 2008). Health visitors are particularly involved with families who have children under five years old, they also work with the elderly population, because most health visitors are attached to GP practices they also work with all patients registered within the practice. Health visitors look at the broader picture to identify the health needs within their community and this allows them to affect local policy (www.healthvisitors.com).
Health visitors are involved with many other members of the multi-disciplinary team, GP’s, midwives, school nurses, dentist, dental hygienist, practice nurses and speech and language therapists. According to Ackland (2009), health visitors should hold an understanding of the roles of others, this knowledge and understanding leads to better communication, which maximizes patient’s care. Many voluntary and statutory agencies are also involved in the promotion of public health, examples of these are, Sure Start and Woman’s Aid. Sure Start is a statutory agency that works closely with the health visitors, it brings together childcare, early education, health and family support services from families with children under five years old (Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), 2008). Woman’s aid is a voluntary agency that works with women who have been involved in domestic violence. Health visitors would work closely with woman’s aid if there is child involved, or if a child is in danger of the domestic violence.
Providing care in any form involves dealing with people in a way that takes account of their individuality. Every person has different aspects that form...
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