A health visitor works with families and carers who are either pregnant or who already have babies and young children under five years old.
The health visitor can help with any questions and help parents and carers understand:
- how to look after yourself and your family
- how to look after your children to keep them safe from harm
- how to help your child grow and develop
- what it is like to be a parent or carer
The health visitor works with the family GP and together they help to keep a family healthy. To help keep children well, the GP and health visitor give information about the immunisations that babies and children need as they grow up.
What services are available?
The health visitor works in GP surgeries and community child health clinics and will also come and see you and your child at home. You will see a health visitor when you have had a baby and sometimes the health visitor will see you before the baby is born.
You can ask the health visitor anything, if they can’t help you they will try to find someone who can help you. The health visitor can listen to you if you are worried about being hurt by someone you know or who lives with you.
If being a mum makes you feel upset or sad or it is not what you thought it would be, the health visitor will be able to help you.
Where are they based?
There are ten health visiting teams who are based at 9 different sites across Lewisham. Each Team covers either 1 or 2 electoral wards.
Who are they for?
The Health Visiting service is responsible for ensuring all children’s health needs are assessed as part of the “Healthy Child Programme”(Department of Health). This is a health promotion programme to support families right through from pregnancy until the child goes to school. The health visiting service works in partnership with parents and carers to help develop a greater understanding about the following;
- Strong parent–child attachment and positive parenting, resulting in better social and emotional wellbeing among children;
- Care that helps to keep children healthy and safe;
- Healthy eating and increased activity, leading to a reduction in obesity;
- Prevention of some serious and communicable diseases;
- Increased rates of initiation and continuation of breastfeeding;
- Readiness for school and improved learning;
- Early recognition of growth disorders and risk factors for obesity;
- Early detection of – and action to address – developmental delay, disability, ill health, and concerns about safety;
- Identification of factors that could influence health and wellbeing in families;
- Better short- and long-term outcomes for children who are at risk of social exclusion.
It is usual for families to engage in the Healthy Child Programme. Any refusal to engage should be explored with the family to assess if there is a pattern of wider concerns around neglect or other issues for the family.
How can you get an appointment?
You can telephone the health visiting team on one of the numbers here to arrange an appointment. Or you can pop into one of the community child health clinics where you can speak to a health visitor without an appointment. You can get more information from;
- Your GP
- Your Social Services
- Your Midwife
- Your local Children’s Centre
Who are the key staff?
The health visitor works as part of a team of other people who you will get to meet. This may be a nurse or nursery nurse and a support worker. The health visitors work closely with a wide range of staff from different services and organisations. The staff may share information about you to ensure they are able to offer the right support to help you and your health. This will be explained to you by all health care staff you meet so you are really clear about how health and social care staff share information.
What else do you need to know?
If you are not registered with a GP you can attend the community child health clinic for immunisations, please make sure you arrive 30 minutes before the clinic closes.
Please make sure you bring your parent child health record (Red Book) with you to any child health clinic appointments in the community, when you see your GP for your baby’s 6 – 8 week development check and if you attend the hospital.