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The new Institute of Health Visiting offers professional advice and support so nurses can improve outcomes for families. Kathy Oxtoby reports

A centre of excellence ‘the extra support is welcome’


‘Health visitors may be a small group but they have a big voice,’ says Cheryll Adams, founding director of the new Institute of Health Visiting. Launched in November 2012, the institute was established to raise practice standards and improve public health outcomes for children, families and communities. It was set up by four health visitor leaders: Dr Adams; Rosamund Bryar, professor of community and primary care nursing at London’s City University; Sarah Cowley, visiting professor of community practice development at King’s College London; and Sally Kendall, director of the Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care and associate dean for research at the University of Hertfordshire. Dr Adams says the institute is a professional response to the government’s health visiting implementation plan, which is designed to strengthen the profession and increase numbers. Another prompt was a Netmums survey finding that some parents were receiving inconsistent advice from health visitors. ‘This was unacceptable

because the health visiting profession should always be giving the best advice,’ says Dr Adams. Operating as a charity, the institute has a board of trustees, a management board and a lay chair in Sally Russell, a director of Netmums. The institute is also building relationships with other related bodies to help increase its presence within the profession. Dr Adams says: ‘The institute has received a great deal of feedback from health visitors telling us it is just what they need’ NS

Cheryll Adams: health visitors should always be giving parents consistent messages

Kathy Oxtoby is a freelance journalist

Institute of Health Visiting’s aims Improve quality and consistency in health visiting practice. Act as a centre of excellence. Improve health visiting capacity and capability. Set standards for continuing professional development. Build leadership in health visiting. Develop ways to channel public health information to families. Monitor the health visiting implementation plan. Run campaigns to raise awareness of common public health issues. Institute of Health Visiting:

Nurse and midwife Victoria Halls always had an interest in breastfeeding support, particularly for vulnerable families. She wanted to train in health visiting, but says that until recently it was difficult to pursue this career path. ‘You needed support from a trust and a university – and even then you would only get a bursary,’ she says. ‘In 2011, when the government introduced its plan to boost the health visitor workforce, I found it much easier to apply to be a student health visitor and I received a salary during my training.’ Ms Halls found the one-year full-time BSc degree course ‘intense but really inspiring’. ‘I qualified in September last year and found it relatively easy to secure a post,’ she says. now working for central london community Health nHS trust, Ms Halls says she can channel her passion for early intervention breastfeeding support, particularly with vulnerable families. Ms Halls has found the Institute of Health Visiting to be a valuable resource in her work. ‘It is an excellent place for health visitors to keep up to date. this extra support is welcome.’

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A centre of excellence.

Careers If you would like to write for our careers section contact [email protected] The new Institute of Health Visiting offe...
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