Health visitor

Health visitors are healthcare specialists who make a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of children and families. They work in the community providing a proactive and universal service to families with young children.

They visit families with young children in their own home with the aim of supporting and empowering families to promote health and wellbeing, so they can give their children the best possible start in life, and to tackle health inequalities and deprivation that leads to children and families becoming vulnerable and at-risk.

Health visitors visit families in their own home and provide information, health advice and support to facilitate and empower parents to care for their children. Health visiting practice in Scotland is based on the following underlying principles that are reflected in the universal health visiting pathway:

  • promoting, supporting and safeguarding the well-being of children
  • person-centeredness
  • building strong relationships with families from early in their pregnancy journey
  • offering support during the early weeks of parenthood and planning future contacts with families
  • harnessing family strengths, while assessing and respectfully responding to their needs

Although the focus of health visiting is on young children in their pre-school years, the relationship the health visitor has with the parents, and the whole family is a unique and important aspect of health visiting practice. Consequently, health visitors require highly developed communication skills to effectively engage with families to discover and build on their strengths, as well as empower them to share their concerns and health needs in a safe and supportive environment, and using strength-based approaches.

Health visitors work with a range of health and social care practitioners including community nursing staff, school nurses, nursery nurses, general practitioners, social workers, speech and language therapists and other allied health professionals, and colleagues in third sector organisations.

The role of the health visitor includes:

  • supporting and empowering parents
  • assessing family health and well-being
  • assessing development in children
  • identifying vulnerability and risk factors
  • supporting parents and carers with physical and mental health challenges
  • promoting, supporting and safeguarding the well-being of children
  • offering emotional support regarding issues such as postnatal depression, domestic violence, loss, and grief
  • understanding local public health issues
  • providing information on local services
  • providing evidence-based advice to empower parents to give their children the best possible start in life
  • supporting national public health initiatives such as tackling child poverty, and obesity
  • the role of Named Person in accordance with the requirement of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

As a health visitor, you will need:

  • good listening skills
  • highly developed communication skills
  • compassion and sensitivity
  • strong leadership skills
  • good management and organisational skills
  • good record keeping
  • ability to prioritise, supervise and effectively delegate tasks and responsibilities
  • good problem-solving skills
  • good decision-making skills
  • ability to motivate
  • advocacy skills
  • to work autonomously and as part of team

To become health visitor, you will need to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) as a first level nurse or midwife, prior to applying for an approved health visitor training programme. In Scotland, all courses leading to a health visiting qualification are delivered at Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework (SCQF) level 11, Master’s degree level.

The following Scottish universities offer postgraduate programmes in Specialist Community Public Health Nursing – Health Visiting which are approved by the NMC:

To gain entry to any of these courses, you need to be a registered nurse or midwife in parts 1 or 2 of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) website. You should also be educated to degree level, although some universities will take previous academic credit, or prior learning into account.

For a full list of approved programmes, please visit the NMC website. Specific entry requirements for each programme vary, depending on the university, college or provider. You are advised to contact each individual provider to find out more.

Upon graduation, your university will update the NMC database, so you can record your qualification. Once your details have been approved, you will be sent a statement of entry to the register.

To apply for a role in NHSScotland as a qualified health visitor (Band 6), you must be an NMC registered specialist community public health nurse. Other qualifications asked for will vary depending on the requirements of the recruiting NHSScotland board. You are advised to contact each individual board to find out its specific requirements.

Protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) scheme

You will also need evidence of your good health and character, and background checks, such as the protecting vulnerable groups (PVG) scheme managed by Disclosure Scotland.

When you start your career as a health visitor, an induction and training package will be provided by the recruiting NHSScotland board allowing you to become familiar with the systems and services available. There will also be a wide range of ongoing training opportunities to develop your skills in a range of areas including:

  • child protection
  • advanced practice
  • teaching and supervision
  • management and leadership

As a health visitor, you’ll be expected to keep your skills and knowledge up to date to maintain your registration to practice with the NMC. Career progression into clinical academic research or service management is also possible.

Revalidation

Revalidation is a process which nurses need to follow to maintain their registration with the NMC every 3 years.

The requirements for revalidation are:

  • 450 practice hours
  • 35 hours of CPD including 20 hours of participatory learning
  • five pieces of practice-related feedback
  • five written reflective accounts
  • reflective discussion
  • health and character declaration
  • professional indemnity arrangement
  • confirmation

Revalidation is an ongoing process throughout your career and aims to promote good practice and to maintain and strengthen public confidence in the profession.

Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The Nursing and Midwifery Council is the governing body for nurses and midwives, and exists to protect the public. The NMC also make sure that nurses and midwives keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date through revalidation.  Registered nurses must renew their professional registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council every three years.

The NMC website also contains information about registration, training and professional standards for Nurses and Midwives in Scotland and the rest of the UK. 

www.nmc-uk.org

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

The Royal College of Nursing is a professional body and trade union which represents nurses and nursing. It seeks to promote excellence in practice and to shape health policies. Find out more on the RCN website.

https://www.rcn.org.uk

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM)

The Royal College of Midwives is a professional body and Trade Union which represents midwives and midwifery.   It seeks to promote excellence in practice and to shape health policies. Find out more on the RCM website.

https://www.rcm.org.uk

Unite/Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association (Unite/CPHVA)

Unite/CPHVA is professional organisation for health visitors, school nurses, nursery nurses and other community nurses working in primary care. Find out more on the unite/CPHVA website.

http://www.unitetheunion.org/how-we-help/list-of-sectors/healthsector/healthsectoryourprofession/cphva/