Implementing new health visiting services through action research: an analysis of process
An action research project based in a single fundholding practice on the South Coast of England aimed to identify needs relevant to families with resident children, then to use the contracting system to redirect health visiting practice to meet those needs. The naïvety of this plan was well recognised, so the processes that occurred during implementation of the proposed changes were recorded throughout. An analysis of these participant observation data revealed various organisational constraints and facilitators that arose during contract negotiations. Two new full time health visiting posts were established, each with an innovative and somewhat controversial focus. One health visitor was employed to establish a community development project in an underserved area of the town, while the other was to provide a home visiting service for the families of school aged children. The processes involved in structuring decisions about ‘health needs’ and how these are best met are analysed for each of the two new posts. The analysis reveals powerful influences that affect the implementation of new health visiting services.