Health visitors are mainly concerned with helping to ensure that people’s domestic behaviour is sanitary, hygienic, and beneficial to the welfare of themselves and their families, particularly to their children. As their name suggests, they fulfill their role in the community, by visiting family homes, to give advice and support to all age groups.
They have a key role with regard to safeguarding vulnerable people, as they are often the first experts to enter the homes of individuals at risk of abuse and neglect, especially children.
A check at two years of age is now a major part of the standard provision. If the health visitor suspects that matters were serious enough to warrant child protection measures, it is their responsibility to initiate the process of intervention. The dual role of advice and inspection has made some families wary of health visitors, despite being appreciative of their potential for assistance.
In addition to their early years work, health visitors have now started to run health promotion schemes such as stop-smoking services, and to deliver certain vaccination programmes.
Many health visitors are represented professionally by the Community Practitioners and Health Visitors Association, which is part of Unite the Union.