The Princess of Wales spotlights vital role of health visitors

The Princess of Wales spotlights the vital role of health visitors
The Princess of Wales spotlights the vital role of health visitors

The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood has today (Friday 16 June) released the second in a series of reports from its 2023 Public Perceptions Survey, which looks at public understanding of the role of the early years sector in shaping our earliest years and, in particular, the role of health visitors. The new data shows a lack of public understanding about what health visitors do, and the breadth of the work that they carry out.

Alongside the findings, a film has been released highlighting the vital role that health visitors play in the community, which includes footage of The Princess of Wales shadowing health visiting teams at Homerton Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The Public Perception Survey findings show that more than half (56%) of the UK public understand little or nothing about the role health visitors play. Of those who know something about the role, they most strongly associate the profession with providing support with feeding and completing health reviews.

Only around 40% of those people aware of the work of health visitors associated the role with supporting maternal, child and family mental health, parent-child relationships, and a child’s social and emotional development – all key elements of the role and vital in supporting the long-term development of children.

Based within local communities, health visitors are specialist nurses who work with families during pregnancy and the first five years of a child’s life to identify and provide tailored support for their specific health and wellbeing needs. They support the health and development of babies and children, as well as the health and wellbeing of parents and carers to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life.

The film released today, which shows The Princess’ work with health visitors over the past few months, was produced to gain a deeper insight into the essential role they play and how their work helps to shape lives in the earliest years. During a day of shadowing, which took place in late March, Her Royal Highness met with members of the health visiting team from Homerton to discuss the scope and breadth of their work, before observing clinical appointments and undertaking a home visit with a local family. The Princess heard about the impact of the care, guidance and reassurance that families receive from their health visitors, and learnt more about the contribution of health visiting to the wider eco-system of support around parents and children.

The film also features interviews with and footage of health visitors and some of the parents they support from the South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust. The Trust is one of two areas taking part in a field study, funded by The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, which is helping equip health visitors with further skills to help parents and carers understand their child’s emotions.

IPSOS technical note

Ipsos interviewed 4,680 UK adults aged 16+ though their online i-Say panel. This included interviewing 1,011 parents of children aged 0-5, Fieldwork ran from 19th April to 2nd May 2023. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.