Healthcare public health is one of the three core domains of specialist public health practice, alongside health improvement and health protection. Healthcare public health (HCPH) is concerned with maximisingthe population benefits of healthcare and reducing health inequalities while meeting the needs ofindividuals and groups, by prioritizing available resources, by preventing diseases and by improving healthrelated outcomes through design, access, utilisation and evaluation of effective and efficient health andsocial care interventions, settings and pathways of care.
Jobs may include a health visitor or a public health nurse. These may be based in the NHS or a local authority.
Health visitors are qualified and registered nurses or midwives who have additional training and qualifications as specialist community public health nurses (SCPHN-HV). This extra training helps them assess the health needs of individuals, families and communities; and promote good health.
Health visitors mainly work with children from birth to five years and their families. They also work with at-risk or deprived groups such as the homeless, addicts or travellers.
As a health visitor, you’ll be passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle and preventing illness. You’ll have a vital role in making sure that children have the best start in life, and, in partnership with parents, you’ll assess:
- Parenting skills
- The family and home environment
- The development needs of young children
If any further support is needed, you’ll arrange to meet parents in their home, in a clinic or a community setting.
You’ll need to work together with a range of different healthcare professionals including community nurses, GPs, social workers and other allied health professionals.
Health visitors are usually employed by the NHS or by community interest groups. You might work in a variety of settings depending on the nature of the work including:
- Family homes
- GP surgeries
- Community and outreach clinics
- Sure Start centres
Your role as a health visitor varies depending on the area you work in. However, the day-to-day work of health visitors typically includes:
- Providing antenatal and postnatal support for parents
- Supporting parents in bringing up young children
- Providing advice on feeding babies and children
- Assessing child growth and development needs of young children
- Supporting children with special needs
- Advising on behavioural management techniques
- Advising parents on how to reduce risks and injuries, and prevent accidents
- Providing information on local support services
There are also specialist health visitor roles, which deal with complex cases and focus on specific services such as infant mental health.
As a health visitor, you’ll have the vital role of working with other organisations to safeguard and protect children. You’ll be trained in recognising the risk factors, triggers of concern and signs of abuse and neglect in children.
You’ll often be the first to recognise whether a child is at risk of harm and know whether action needs to be taken and what should be done to protect them. You’ll also make sure families receive the best possible support during formal safeguarding arrangements.