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Health visitors are nurses or midwives with an additional specialist public health qualification who work with families with children aged under five to promote good health and prevent illness.
Health visitors help families to maintain the health of young children. This often involves home visits. They may also work with deprived groups, such as the homeless. Key responsibilities include:
providing health advice and health education programmes
undertaking developmental assessments of babies and children
helping people come to terms with issues such as postnatal depression
establishing and addressing key health needs
referral to and liaison with other relevant organisations
assessing parenting skills and children's home situations, and offering parents any further support that may be needed
working with other professionals such as social workers, GPs and school nurses
Qualifications and training required
It is only possible to become a health visitor after you have first qualified and registered as a nurse or midwife. You can then apply to undertake an approved programme in specialist community public health nursing. You do not need to have practised as a nurse or midwife for a particular length of time before starting health visitor training.
Key skills for health visitors
Resourcefulness and effective verbal communication and listening skills are essential. It is important to possess a mature, confident and caring manner. All candidates must be of good health and fitness. There are criminal record restrictions.
Typical employers of health visitors
Health visitors are typically employed by the NHS or by community interest groups. They may be based in GP surgeries or community clinics.