What does a health visitor do?
Health visitors travel to people’s homes, especially new mothers and children, to provide information, practical care, and support to help clients cope with any difficulties they are experiencing. The role may involve working with a broad section of people in the community, and duties might often include:
- advising older people on health related issues
- giving advice to new mothers about their baby – for example hygiene, safety, feeding and sleeping
- counselling people on issues such as post-natal depression or bereavement
- coordinating child immunisation programmes
- organising special clinics or drop-in centres
Health visitors work closely with other agencies, such as social services and local housing departments.
What do I need to do to become a health visitor?
To become a health visitor, you will need to have the ability to relate to people of all ages and backgrounds. You must have excellent communication and listening skills. Sometimes you will need to be able to cope with distressing issues.
You will need to be a qualified midwife or nurse to begin an approved health visitor training programme and work as a health visitor. There is no minimum length of experience required, but you will need the ability to study at university level.
To start training, you would need to apply for the Specialist Community Public Health Nursing Health Visiting (SCPHN/HV) programme. The qualification is studied at degree level, or postgraduate level if you already have a degree.
Where could I be working?
With experience you could progress to team manager, community matron or a management role in another department of the NHS. You could also go into nurse education and training.