Please explain health visitors?

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Please explain health visitors?

Postby BLTMama » 12 Aug 2010, 21:28

Okay, so when I first heard the phrase "health visitor", I thought wow, that's really cool -- they send a nurse around to your house after you have a baby, reassure you your baby is fine, ask how you're doing, maybe make you a cup of tea and a scone (okay, maybe not the last part). But the more I hear the more it sounds like a nosy neighbor telling you what it was like when she had her kids back in 1979. And then it sounds like they don't even come to you? How is that a "visitor"?

So clearly I'm totally confused. Can someone explain what a health visitor is and what they're supposed to do?
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby Rosie_t_Riveter » 12 Aug 2010, 21:55

Erm, well. It's difficult to say really. this is the NHS job description for a Health Visitor. My experience is that a very nice lady visits you before you have your baby, then the midwives fook up breastfeeding and the health visitors pick up the pieces. They did visit my home four times, but at 3m said that they didn't need to visit anymore and I could just see them at my local "well baby" clinic which is every Thursday at my doctors surgery.

WRT BLW she knew about it, and since TheWriggler was a keen eater (he was swallowing something from day 1) she was fine with it. I'm not sure how she would have been if he hadn't taken to it quite as well as he did.

I hope that helps, and I'm sure others will be along to give their experiences, both good and bad.
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby CherryPop » 12 Aug 2010, 22:05

Yup, pretty much what RtR said. I had no idea of who/what they were before a couple of weeks after Jacob was born, when I got a phonecall from mine booking in a visit for the following week (I didn't have any visits before Jacob was born - I think that's the norm?).

After your baby is born you see the midwife at home as often as needed for up to 28 days, then they sign you over to the HV, but they can do that before the 28 days is up if there are no problems. I had massive problems so my midwife stayed with me for 6 weeks, and her care overlapped with the HV who started coming when Jacob was 3 weeks old. They come out, weigh the baby, check their reflexes, do PND questionnaires on you etc, and are generally very sympathetic and good at getting you referred if there's a problem.

When you're more stable and able to get out and about, they ask you to come to their clinics rather than visiting you at home, although they are always just a phonecall away and are happy to come to the house to discuss anything you like (baby/child/mum-related of course!). They do further home development checks at varying ages, and you can go to the clinics as often as you like. You can ask questions, ask for advice/help, and they generally tell you what you should be doing, but mine have always been very happy to let me get on with it (i.e. I don't take Jacob to be weighed unless I'm in the clinic for his jabs, I'm doing BLW etc). I understand that not everyone's experiences are the same, and it seems to be the case that lots of people meet resistance from HVs when trying to raise their baby the AP way.

With regards to BLW, I've found that my HV has never asked for details of what/how much Jacob is eating - they asked (once, at around 8 months) how he ate and I said "Really well, we're doing BLW" and she responded very positively and didn't ask for details.

HTH!
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby camper » 12 Aug 2010, 22:17

Health Visitors also have other roles too, some of which you hopefully won't have to find out about, and others depend on the resources available in your area. Many are involved with Sure Start projects (which obviously change from area to area), some run classes like positive parenting, young mums groups, baby massage. They also usually get forwarded details of all hospital attendances for children on their caseload, which they follow up if they feel appropriate. So, for example, if you take your baby to emergency after it falls top to bottom of the stairs and you have no stairgate, they may come and do a safety check on your home, and see if they can offer you any other help (our local council when we were in the UK used to loan out safety equipment and the Health Visitor could help you access this). They are also very involved in Child Protection cases and in some areas, the bulk of their time may sadly be taken up by helping such families, and attending case conferences. Good health visitors are utterly fabulous, and as a job it sounds like a potentially really interesting and rewarding one. However, not-so-good Health Visitors are clearly out there - such a waste of a fantastic opportunity.
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby Turtle'sMammy » 12 Aug 2010, 22:57

In Ireland they are a "jack of all trades". They help the elderly or anyone else needing care not sick enough to stay in hospital and not needing a doctor. So when I had surgery and needed my wound packed the HV came every day and did it. It meant that we had a good relationship by the time I gave birth (I was about 6 weeks along when I had to have the surgery, for something else entirely) and she trusted me to know what I was doing.
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby jvnt » 12 Aug 2010, 23:14

Gotta say, although they're often slated on here :D it is an amazing resource to have. Going back to another thread on here about teenage mums there aren't that many other countries where so much help is provided for free. I was pretty shocked when an an American friend explained that there you just take your baby home from the hospital with no follow up whatsoever. I arranged mine privately here but paid about GBP 70 per visit (well, my health insurance company did!).

So IMO yay for health visitors even if some of them are poorly informed I suspect the majority do a good job and that even a poorly informed visitor is better than no visitor at all for people who are really in need.
jvnt, mother to The Boy, August '09, Baby Dragon, January '12 and HP May '14.
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby camper » 13 Aug 2010, 05:09

It's true - you don't know what you've got til it's gone, as they say. I never had a lot to do with ours in the UK, but here there are Child Health Nurses who don't do half as much as HVs and I think it's a real shame, and the lack of support, especially for new mums is quite scary when you come from the UK system.
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby cloudcuckoo » 13 Aug 2010, 07:42

HV's are qualified nurses who work in the community with families. They have a particular leaning towards children, and all families are entitled to their support with a new baby. They will not need to be a big part of most families lives - where a family is stable and coping, there will probably be little interaction, which is why most of us here get frustrated with them. They are not really about those families who make researched and informed decisions and generally cope well with rearing children. Much more of their time is spent supporting families in difficult situations or with more serious health concerns than whether or not to spoonfeed the little darlings. Through their visits and clinics, they can identify families who need support or children who are not thriving.
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby BLTMama » 13 Aug 2010, 14:14

Okay, what you've said makes a lot more sense, and sounds like a wonderful resource to have, even if it doesn't always work so well in practice. I know I would have loved to have something like that -- I ended up calling the nurses at the hospital where we gave birth a bunch the first few weeks with stupid questions. It was totally not their job, but they were very sweet and accommodating. They do generally just throw you out and let you sink or swim in the US, which is scary!

I have to admit, my suspicious, gubmint-hating Amurican mind was starting to think HVs sounded like a way for the government to keep tabs on all your babies... :wink:*

*I am totally, totally kidding! :bsmile
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby Rosie_t_Riveter » 13 Aug 2010, 14:28

joszefja wrote:I have to admit, my suspicious, gubmint-hating Amurican mind was starting to think HVs sounded like a way for the government to keep tabs on all your babies... :wink:*

*I am totally, totally kidding! :bsmile


I know you're kidding, but we did have one of those until the new government scrapped it. TBH having witnessed my social worker parents dealing with very difficult cases when I was young (before mobile phones so when my dad was on call all the horrid cases were discussed on the family phone in the hallway!) and after the awful cases of Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter I think anything that will help stop abuse is a good thing, even if that means my son's name ends up on a database somewhere. But I am generally quite casual about this sort of thing (in comparison to my friends who campaigned against ID cards, not sure how I'd stack up against a sample of the "normal" population!)
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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby Louisianablue2000 » 13 Aug 2010, 20:28

HV are a lot less hassle the second time round. I saw one for DD2 twice, once for the obligatory home visit at a few weeks old when I had to do the Edinburgh Test (PND test, I was on such happy hormones at the time that it was mad how un-PNDy I was) and then once for her 7 month check. Oh, and her vaccinations at the doctors but they don't interrogate you much then, except to express surprise that I was 'still' EBF at 8 weeks :?

The trouble with a PFB is that the HVs never actually tell you that you don't have to go to their blooming weighing sessions and really they shouldn't be wasting resources on Mums who are coping fine, they are there to catch the families who aren't coping.
See DD1's first few meals here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisianab ... 629434614/
See DD2's weaning video here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/louisianab ... 826217940/

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Re: Please explain health visitors?

Postby Fuz-Chan » 14 Aug 2010, 08:56

We don't have anything here really, but I did get a visit from a woman from the "health centre" - who was frankly annoying and tried to get me to stop feeding on demand and mix bf and ff. I was rather rude I'm afraid and more or less told her to sod off...

I "have to" go to doctor's checks at 4 and 10 months, and we went back to the maternity hospital at one month for me and her also. I got a letter telling me to back to the health centre this month for a dental check at 9 months. I don't know what happens if you don't go but I suspect they pester you.

I do wonder, being in a different country and all if having a more regular HV type visitor would have been a good thing... or if they would just have annoyed me. I know I felt really alone as a mum and that improved once I found this forum!
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