Health Visitor is one of the less well-known jobs in the NHS and these roles are often overlooked or misunderstood. Modern Health Visitors have a much more interesting and complex role than just weighing babies, and it can be a great career choice. So what exactly do they do and how can you land a Health Visitor job?
What do Health Visitor jobs involve?
Health Visitors work as part of a team for an NHS Trust or local authority and visit with families at home and in GP surgeries, community clinics and children’s centres. They care for children aged 0-5 and help parents and guardians offer the possible best care and support for them. They also monitor the growth and development of the children and look out for signs of neglect or abuse.
Health Visitors assess parenting skills, family situations and home environments and their impact on a child’s development. They help families to improve their parenting, reduce risks to a child’s safety and come up with solutions for developmental problems.
Some of the areas a Health Visitor would cover include:
Support for parents just before and just after birth.
Problems with child growth and development.
Spotting and removing risks in the home.
Offering advice on local services.
As the physical and mental care they offer is tailored to fit each client, Health Visitors have an extremely varied role and need a wide range of skills.
What skills do I need to become a Health Visitor?
As Health Visitor jobs are much more socially complex than pure clinical roles, you’ll need a wide range of diverse skills, both clinical and social, including:
The ability to work independently
As Health Visitors generally work on their own, you’ll need a high level of responsibility and conscientiousness, as well as an eye for detail.
The ability to hold difficult conversations
Health Visitors sometimes need to work with people in traumatic situations, and you’ll need the strength to stand up for what’s best for a child.
Helping families overcome challenges and difficulties could take time and a range of different approaches. From time to time, you may have to deal with difficult parents and children.
Attention to detail
You will need to be on the lookout for hazards around the home, signs and symptoms of developmental or health problems and evidence of neglect or abuse.
A caring and compassionate nature
To help parents and children through what could be the most difficult and anxious period of their lives, you will need to offer reassurance and an empathetic attitude through excellent people skills.
You need to be able to evaluate a family’s circumstances to establish the root cause of any problems and come up with an achievable plan of action.
The ability to drive
As you will spend much of your time visiting families in the community, you will need to be able to drive, hold a clean driving licence and have access to a car.
What qualifications do I need to become a Health Visitor?
Before becoming a Health Visitor, you need to qualify as a registered nurse or midwife, so that you have the strong foundation in healthcare needed to answer all your clients’ questions.
You’ll then need to gain an additional qualification called a Specialist Community Public Health Nursing – Health Visiting qualification (or SCPHN – HV). The training for this qualification takes one year, partly at university or partly in a placement trust. Alternatively, you can take the course part time over two years.
Working as a Health Visitor is an interesting, highly skills and varied career. It involves a lot of responsibility but can be very rewarding, as you make a huge difference in people’s lives at a particularly vulnerable time.
MSI’s specialist team are experts in placing Health Visitors in roles within NHS Trusts, GP surgeries, community and outreach clinics and Sure Start centres. Our relationships with our clients mean we have access to exclusive Health Visitor jobs across the UK.
If you're interested in working with MSI as an agency Health Visitor, we'd love to hear from you.