Working with vulnerable families: a health visiting perspective


  • Jane V Appleton BA(Hons) MSc RGN RHV PGCEA

    1. Senior Lecturer in Nursing, Division of Adult Nursing and Health Sciences, Hillside House, The University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield Campus, College Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL10 9AB, England
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The aim of this paper is to describe part of the findings of a research study which explored the health visitor's role in identifying and working with vulnerable families in relation to child protection One objective of the study was to describe and analyse the work which health visitors undertake with vulnerable families aimed at preventing crisis, ill-health and child abuse This paper outlines this aspect of the research and looks specifically at health visitors'perceptions of their work and interventions with vulnerable families and children Health visitors working m an inner city area and a suburban area were sampled and pilot work was undertaken in a third suburban area Stage one involved a postal survey of 102 health visitors, in which a response rate of 58 (57%) was obtained Stage two involved 12 in-depth interviews with health visitors One major finding of this study highlighted the fact that the health visitor's role when working with vulnerable families appears to be one of diversity and conflict In the light of the current National Health Service reforms it seems of paramount importance that health visitors illustrate to others, both managers and other health/social service professionals alike, the important function of their work with these vulnerable groups This is essential to ensure that health visitors'work with vulnerable families in relation to child protection is understood and valued and that the needs of vulnerable families continue to be identified This paper contributes to the knowledge base of health visiting and raises some important issues for professional health visiting practice