Health visitors, also known as community nurses, are qualified nurses who have undertaken specialist training in children's health, public health and health education. A health visitor is a job role specific to the United Kingdom. A health visitor works with a health care unit team to identify the health care needs of individuals, their families and the local community.
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A health visitor's primary role is to promote excellent health and take preventive measures against the occurrence of illness by offering advice. A health visitor works within a given community and often makes home visits. Support is largely aimed at infants and their parents, the elderly and individuals suffering from terminal illness or coping with a disability. A health visitor may also have to address issues of social inequality in health care provision by working with deprived and minority groups, as stated on the Prospects website.
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A health visitor needs to have be adept at identifying the needs of a community or individual and making an appropriate health care provision. The practice of health visiting in the UK is founded on four principles that provide guidance to professional practitioners, as stated on the Public Health Resource Unit website. These are: the identification of health requirements, the stimulation of awareness of health requirements, the influence of policies affecting health and the facilitation of activities that enhance health.
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Health visitors advise new parents on a range of issues such as feeding practice, sleep patterns, child safety and emotional development. They will also offer advice on weaning and any immunisation injections a child may need. A health visitor will also construct a child health program for parents to follow and may host community parenting groups. Health visitors also host specialist sessions on baby care at local clinics and hospitals on issues such as infant exercise and baby massage techniques. A health visitor also works closely with children's schools and playgroups in the community.
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A health visitor provides emotional support for parents suffering from postnatal depression or family bereavement. She also assists families effected by domestic violence by teaching effective anger management strategies. Health visitors also work with vulnerable members of the community, such as the poor and the homeless, and teaches them effective strategies to maintain good health. A health visitor also works alongside community groups promoting self-help strategies to cope with particular health concerns, such as smoking, overeating, sexual diseases or binge drinking. She also supports United Kingdom government initiatives to deal with child poverty and child abuse.
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A health visitor is assigned to diagnose minor conditions and prescribe mild medication where appropriate. She can also administer certain injections and change wound dressings, as stated on the DirectGov U.K. Public Services website. She also supervises and trains new health visitors and keeps accurate patient records. Health visitors are also tasked with collecting and analysing medical data to ensure that government-set health targets are being met. A health visitor also liaises with local police, housing officers, social care workers and school teachers to seek assistance with health care provision. According to mysalary.co.uk, the average salary of a health visitor as of 2009 was 27,334 British pounds (approximately £26,650).