‘I never realised how much a newborn baby notices things going on around them’: Innovative health visiting early interventions within children’s social care.

Authors: Rees, K. and Shailer, S.

Start date: 11 September 2019

Amended for local Dorset audience: This project aimed to evaluate the impact of Specialist Health Visitor (SHV) early interventions with families assessed as ‘in need’ by children’s social care and evaluate the potential for enhanced partnership working through co-location.

An action research methodology was utilised to enable a critical analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data sets gathered during service implementation. This innovative service development co-located a SHV within a child in need children’s social care team. The SHV role focused on offering an intensive tailor made health visiting service to vulnerable families: 50% of the interventions were in the antenatal period and focused on promoting attachment and healthy attachment behaviours from parents. The evaluation demonstrated: • De-escalation of Child In Need status • Successful engagement of hard to reach families • Early antenatal engagement with the target population • Development of Baby Brain (neuroscience) and attachment learning resources • Improved parenting capacity and confidence demonstrated by self-report and Karitane Parenting Confidence Scale • Demonstrable improvement in parental mental health • Development of specialist professional expertise • Significantly enhanced partnership working • Parents reported the service as accessible • Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is highly effective in supporting families to make meaningful change The evaluation report was powerful enough to persuade the commissioners to extend the funding of the SHV post. Further recommendations were that the local HV service should consider offering an enhanced attachment and relationship focused antenatal service to vulnerable families who are not currently known to children’s social care and an extension of VIG capacity within the Trust.

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